Xiaomi is getting closer and closer to building a car!
Just this morning, media reported that Xiaomi is expected to establish a car project in April as soon as possible, focusing on technological attributes and positioning in the high-end market. The person in charge of the car plan is Xiaomi veteran Wang Chuan. Affected by this news, the Hong Kong stocks of Xiaomi Group have soared and are now up 2.6%.
People familiar with the matter revealed that at the end of February, Lei Jun had an appointment with Li Bin, the founder of Weilai Automobile, to consult about car building. In addition, it has been learned from many sources that Wang Chuan is on behalf of the Xiaomi Group to find out the automotive industry, seeking talents, technology, factory manufacturing and other resources. In terms of talents, Wang Chuan is already in contact with some high-quality executives in the auto industry, seeking candidates for CEOs of auto companies. However, the source also revealed that this plan has not yet been determined.
Wang Chuan is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Xiaomi. He joined Xiaomi in 2012 and has been in charge of the TV Department, the General Staff Department, the China Region, and the Major Appliances Department. He has participated in the entire chain of product development, production, channels, and sales. By the way, the Xiaomi TV is considered to be one of the most successful businesses outside of Xiaomi mobile phones.
On February 19, LatePost said that they had learned from multiple information sources that Xiaomi had decided to build a car and regarded it as a strategic decision. However, the specific form and path have not yet been determined, and there may still be variables. In addition, a person familiar with the matter disclosed that Xiaomi’s car may be led by Lei Jun, the founder of Xiaomi Group.
This Is Logical
If the news is true, it means that China’s new car market will usher in another heavyweight player, and Xiaomi will even once again use its own “price butcher” style to disrupt the entire new energy market.
In the context of Apple, Google, Amazon, Huawei, BAT and many other technology and Internet giants entering the smart car industry one after another, we believe Lei Jun and Xiaomi will find it hard not to think about whether to build a car.
Although the company has not yet formally confirmed this matter, it cannot be ignored that Xiaomi has been in the automotive field since 8 years ago. It has already applied for more than 30 automotive patents in total. Total number is not only ahead of the old rivals OPPO and VIVO, but there are also more creative ideas such as “adjust the rearview mirror with your eyes”, “detect pedestrians in front and automatically reduce the volume of the whistle”, etc.
So what patents has Xiaomi accumulated in the past 8 years? What about the patent layout of OPPO and VIVO in the automotive field? Through the patent documents of the National Patent Office, we can see why.
Smartphone Manufacturers Have Applied For Multiple Smart Car Patents
In order to know what smartphone companies such as Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo have done in the automotive field, we looked at the patent status of these three companies in the automotive field at the State Intellectual Property Office, and found that these three companies have quietly made patent arrangements.
Among the three companies, the earliest and largest number of patents involved in the automotive field belongs to Xiaomi. The official website of the State Intellectual Property Office shows that Xiaomi began to apply for automotive patents in 2012. At that time, Xiaomi was just established and the smartphone market was not yet stable. Since then, the layout of the automotive field has begun, and its forward-looking vision is worthy of admiration.
After more than 8 years of technology accumulation, it has applied for more than 30 automotive patents. So we can say that Xiaomi has accumulated a lot of technical foundation in the automotive field, and it is no wonder that the media will say that Xiaomi will end up building cars.
However, Xiaomi’s automotive patent layout is more concentrated in the field of smart cockpits and road testing and safety. There is no layout for the current hottest autonomous driving technology.
Compared with Xiaomi, OPPO’s and VIVO’s entry time in the automotive field is not so early. According to the official website of the State Intellectual Property Office, these two companies both started to apply for automotive patents in 2015. That is to say, since 2015, these two companies have only begun to deploy in the automotive field.
However, although the field of smart cars has been laid out in 2015, the two companies don’t seem to have invested much energy in this area. Both have only a dozen automotive patents. Compared with other cross-industry players, they are far behind.
The patents of OPPO and VIVO are more concentrated in the field of smart cockpits. There are more patent projects on cars and machines, and they have no involvement in automatic driving.
In general, the three smartphone manufacturers, Xiaomi, OPPO, and VIVO, have also begun to deploy smart electric vehicles. The three companies have applied for nearly 60 patents in total.
Xiaomi Patents In Smart Car Industry
Among many smartphone manufacturers, Xiaomi has always been considered to be the most likely to build a car. Recently, there are endless rumors about Xiaomi cars.
From the information of the State Intellectual Property Office, Xiaomi’s automotive patents are mainly concentrated in three areas, namely, smart cockpit, driving safety and other aspects.
In terms of smart cockpit, Xiaomi has applied for a very interesting patent named Rearview Mirror Adjustment Method, Device and Terminal. At present, the rearview mirror of the automobile factory can only be adjusted by the driver through manual twisting and electric buttons. If the vehicle is driving, no matter which aspect is used, there is a certain risk.
Xiaomi’s patent completely solves this problem. It installs a camera on the car to directly recognize the user’s iris. After the user’s eyes move, the vehicle can recognize the change in the angle of the user’s eye movement. The change information automatically adjusts the position of the rearview mirror. So the user can obtain a specified range of vision through the reflection of the rearview mirror.
In other words, the camera in the car can lock the user’s iris. When the user looks at the rearview mirror, the vehicle will automatically adjust the rearview mirror according to the angle of the user’s eye deflection. So the user can obtain the best viewing angle and let the rearview mirror. The sight glass achieves the effect of moving with the eyes. This design is not only very practical, but also further enhances the sci-fi attributes of the vehicle.
In addition, Xiaomi has also made a lot of user-friendly designs in the cockpit. Generally, adults may use a higher volume when driving music, but this is not suitable for children. Xiaomi’s vision is to install a pressure sensor on the child seat. When there is no pressure, it means that there are no children in the car. The audio can be increased appropriately. Otherwise, the vehicle will automatically reduce the sound of the car’s audio to provide a good riding environment for children.
During the daily commute to get off work, many car owners will turn on the navigation to see the road conditions. This requires the car owner to search for the navigation destination every time they set off. Xiaomi’s patent also solves this trouble. By identifying the identity of the car owner, it will automatically provide navigation services for car owners during off-duty time.
When the owner’s hands are busy and the trunk cannot be opened, the vehicle can also automatically open the trunk by identifying the owner.
Driving safety is also involved in many items in Xiaomi’s car patent. Through the monitoring equipment in the car, the vehicle will record the driving time and rest time of the owner. When the driving time and the rest time are not proportional, the vehicle will take the initiative to issue a warning to to remind the owner to stop and rest.
Through the use of pressure sensors, the vehicle will automatically adjust the opening and closing degree of the vehicle’s accelerator according to the current weight of the vehicle body. When the vehicle is loaded, the vehicle owner can also feel the normal accelerator pedaling degree.
At the same time, the vehicle will also observe the driving behavior of the owner. When the driver is not on the brake pedal or on the accelerator pedal, the vehicle will give an early warning to cultivate the driving habit that the driver’s foot is on the brake pedal instead of the accelerator pedal by default.
In addition, Xiaomi’s car patent also takes into account the safety on the road. Xiaomi’s car patent shows that the vehicle can identify whether it is a car or a pedestrian in front of the vehicle. When the detection result is a pedestrian, the sound will be moderately reduced when the owner honks the whistle, reducing the damage caused to pedestrians due to the excessive volume of the whistle.
The vehicle will also observe the pedestrian’s physical information to identify the purpose of the pedestrian’s behavior and improve driving safety. When the vehicle is stopped, depending on the surrounding environment, the opening and closing of the door will be different, further reducing the possibility of accidents.
In addition, Xiaomi has also applied for manufacturing patents for some auto parts, as well as design patents for some accessories such as car covers and charging guns, further deepening its layout in the automotive field.
In general, Xiaomi has also spent a lot of thought in the automotive field. It has its own unique thinking in terms of smart cockpit and driving safety. Once it is determined to build a car or enter the automotive field as a supplier, these interesting features will also appear on the car.
OPPO Patents In Smart Car Industry
Unlike Xiaomi’s multi-party layout, OPPO’s automotive patents are relatively concentrated, mainly in the smart cockpit.
One of the patents is very sci-fi – the owner can control answering calls through brain waves. In specific applications, car owners need to carry an electronic device with brainwave sensors. After getting in the car, the electronic device can be interconnected with the vehicle’s central control system. When in the connected state, the control mode of the electronic device will switch to the brain wave control mode.
At this time, if there is a passive call request, the brain wave sensor in the electronic device will collect the user’s brain wave signal, determine the response to the passive call request based on the brain wave signal, and then establish a call connection. Through this design, the driver will become more intelligent, safer and more convenient to answer the phone while driving.
When the driver is driving, if the navigation is turned on, such as when driving through a complex road or passing through a crowd within a preset time period, the bullet frame events received by the application on the car will be hidden. It affects the use of navigation, and the pop-up box will not be pushed until such a road condition has passed. This can also reduce the driver’s distraction from watching the screen during driving.
In addition, the positioning device can confirm the location of the vehicle, and then interact with the vehicle. For example, if the vehicle positioning shows that it is located in the parking lot, the subsequent terminal can display the parking fee payment according to the judgment result. At the entrance, the car owner can complete the payment of the parking fee on the car, and can directly drive out of the parking station, reducing the trouble caused by manual payment.
OPPO also has a certain accumulation of patents in the cockpit. A very useful patent is the ability to automatically adjust the seat back of the vehicle. The patent content shows that the driver’s depth images can be obtained through the structured light components in the car, and the driver’s height ratio information can be obtained from these depth images.
After that, the vehicle will automatically adjust the driver’s seat position based on the driver’s height ratio information. Through this patent, the driver does not need to spend time adjusting the seat back.
The vehicle can also determine the time to meet the preset air conditioning start conditions based on real-time location information, parking location information and the current time. Once the conditions are met, the vehicle’s air conditioning will automatically start.
In addition, thanks to OPPO’s continuous exploration in mobile camera, OPPO has also applied for a patent in car image processing. The patent shows that the image acquisition system on the vehicle terminal can effectively remove the fog in the collected images, making the driving video images recorded by the car in foggy weather clearer.
In terms of driving safety, once the driver’s driving behavior has an abnormal reaction, the vehicle will be reminded of driving hazards to increase the driver’s alertness.
If a collision accident occurs in a vehicle, the vehicle-mounted terminal will send alarm information to the preset object as soon as possible. The alarm information includes the current location information of the vehicle, etc. This patent enables relevant departments to quickly obtain accident information and improve processing efficiency. It can also reduce the occurrence of accidents.
At present, OPPO has announced a cooperation with Ideal Car. The Find X3 series can be used as the Bluetooth car key of Ideal ONE (Configuration |Inquiry) and provide remote car control function.
VIVO Patents In Smart Car Industry
Although OPPO’s brother brand VIVO has not appeared in many rumors in the automotive sector, this company has also quietly applied for a number of patents in the automotive field. Similar to the other two smartphone companies, VIVO’s automotive patents also focus on the smart cockpit.
Among VIVO’s car patents, two patents on car machines seem to be very interesting, one of which is a patent on song push. The patent shows that it receives the environmental information sent by the mobile terminal when it starts the music process, including sound information, geographic location information, and exercise status.
According to the environmental information, it can determine the scene song that matches the environment where the terminal is located, and then push the song to the terminal. And this process does not require account registration and manual selection of songs.
With the help of this patent, when the driver is driving at night, the vehicle may automatically play more exciting music to help the driver offset sleepiness. There will also be music suitable for the environment when traveling during the day. It can also improve the driver’s driving experience.
Another patent is related to the switching of car and vehicle theme. The vehicle will obtain wallpaper image information or user characteristic information, determine the matching theme type based on the obtained information, and switch the terminal theme or application theme to correspond to the matching theme type.
This patent can simplify the theme switching process, improve the human-computer interaction experience of theme switching, and make the theme of the vehicle more personalized.
In addition, the VIVO patent also has the interaction between the mobile terminal (i.e. smartphone) and the car machine. When the moving speed of the mobile terminal is greater than the preset speed, the mobile terminal will enter the safe mode and hide the preset application on the interface.
Through this design, users can reduce the frequent use of smartphones during walking or driving, allowing users to pay more attention to the surrounding environment, and bring more security to users.
In terms of driving safety, VIVO has also made a patented layout. During the driving process, the vehicle will continuously monitor the user’s physiological characteristics and determine whether the driver’s driving behavior is abnormal at any time.
If the vehicle has dangerous driving behavior while driving, the vehicle will issue a warning to the owner according to the alarm mode corresponding to different danger levels.
During driving, the vehicle will automatically determine the risk of a rear-end collision with the preceding vehicle based on the current speed, the speed of the preceding vehicle, and the distance from the preceding vehicle, and send a warning message to alert the user.
Although VIVO does not have many patents in the automotive field, its patents are very practical. There are designs to improve the driving experience of the driver and designs to ensure the safe driving of the driver. In comparison, VIVO’s car patents are more likely to appear on cars.
There Is A Gap In The Patent Layout, But It Is Still Possible To Build A Car
From the above information, it is not difficult to see that Xiaomi, OPPO, and VIVO have applied for a lot of automotive patents, which can not help but make people think whether these companies will participate in car manufacturing.
After all, there has been a lot of news about these three companies going to build cars before, the most prominent is undoubtedly Xiaomi. In 2014, when the trend of building cars on the Internet was just emerging, some people said that Xiaomi was going to build cars. But it was firmly rejected by the chairman of Xiaomi, Lei Jun.
In 2017, Xiaomi and BAIC Group signed a strategic cooperation agreement, and there are rumors of Xiaomi making cars. In June last year, the official Weibo of Xiaomi Mall released a poster with the outline of a car, which was regarded by the outside as a sign that Xiaomi was going to build a car. Of course, the Xiaomi Group denied it again.
Interestingly, at the end of last year, rumors said that Xiaomi and BYD will jointly release the “Young People’s First Car” Qingyue S1, and even issued posters, but the Xiaomi Group denied it again.
In addition, the Xiaomi Group has been rumored to have 5 car-making scandals. This may also be related to Xiaomi’s frequent appearances in the new round of car building.
At present, Xiaomi has invested in new car companies such as Weilai and Xiaopeng. It has participated in the A-round financing of Weilai Automobile, with an investment of more than 100 million yuan ($15.37 million). It has invested more than $450 million in Xiaopeng Automobile). When Xiaopeng Motors went public, Lei Jun even went directly to the scene.
However, despite frequent investments, it is not clear that Xiaomi will build a car.
Coincidentally, recently, we started getting various car-making patents by OPPO. So rumors about OPPO car-making have also begun to rise. Previously, OPPO founder Chen Mingyong once said: ‘OPPO has only two possibilities – one is not to make a car, the second is to make a car. Moreover, we can only do what we are good at and can do.’
From Chen Mingyong’s words, we can see that OPPO still has a certain interest in the automotive industry, and it is not certain whether it will build a car. Although VIVO does not have as many topics as Xiaomi and OPPO on the matter of car building, every time it comes to the issue of smartphone manufacturers to build cars, VIVO is also listed by the public as potential car manufacturers.
So, Do These Three Companies Really Have The Conditions To Build Cars?
From the perspective of the specific content, the patents of the three smartphone manufacturers in the automobile are mainly concentrated in the field of smart cockpit and driving safety. Although these two directions are also key directions in the automotive field, they are not core areas.
For the current automotive industry, electric vehicles will be the mainstream development direction. If these three smartphone companies want to build cars, they will also choose electric vehicles. In electric vehicles, the most important thing is undoubtedly the vehicle’s three-electric system. The pros and cons of the three-electric system determine the performance of the entire vehicle.
The reason why Tesla can occupy an absolute dominance in the field of electric vehicles is also inseparable from its superior performance in the three electric fields.
However, judging from the patents of Xiaomi, OPPO, and VIVO, none of the patents are related to the three-electric system, indicating that these three companies have no technological accumulation in this area.
Secondly, autonomous driving is also a very important point of competition for car companies. Tesla, Xiaopeng, Weilai, GM and other car companies can all realize high-speed automatic driving, automatic overtaking, and automatic gate-off. Other car companies have also established autonomous driving departments to further develop autonomous driving technology.
But Does This Mean That SmartPhone Manufacturers Will Not End Up Building Cars?
Technology companies build cars across the industry. In addition to making their own cars, there is another way to find other companies to produce OEMs. At present, Baidu is using this method of car manufacturing. Xiaomi once had contact with Borgward Auto and Kering Auto, which is positioned in the city distribution logistics. The negotiation with Borgward Auto has stopped. But there are still sources who say that Xiaomi tends to look for production resources that are convenient for partners who are controlled through reorganization.
In other words, production experience and some technical limitations are only the current limiting factors. If these companies decide to build cars, relying on their own R&D experience and financial support, they will still have a certain degree of competitiveness on the automotive field.
Under the leadership of the four modernizations of the automobile, the automobile industry has ushered in tremendous changes, and in this process, more enterprises have the opportunity to enter the automobile field across the border.
At present, Internet companies such as Baidu, Ali, Tencent, etc. have already occupied a certain position in the automotive field. As Huawei has begun to deploy in the automotive field, more smartphone manufacturers have begun to explore the possibility of entering the automotive industry.
At present, the three more successful smartphone companies, Xiaomi, OPPO, and VIVO have also begun to apply for patents in the automotive sector.