Xiaomi is developing UWB-powered ‘Magic Control Bridge’ for controlling Mi TVs

Xiaomi is developing UWB-powered ‘Magic Control Bridge’ for controlling Mi TVs

Xiaomi has been building up its smart home ecosystem over the past few years, especially in the TV arena. The company has sold set-top boxes for a long time, and now offers a range of Mi TV models, like the QLED 4K TV we reviewed earlier this year. According to code in a new version of the Mi Home app, Xiami is working on a new ‘Magic Control Bridge’ accessory that will allow anyone around a Mi TV to control it from a compatible phone or tablet, in case picking up the physical remote isn’t fancy enough for you.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.

We tore apart the v6.9.601 update for Xiaomi’s Mi Home app, which contains strings of text referencing a ‘Magic Control Bridge.’ The device will apparently connect to any 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network (but not 5GHz), or directly into a TV using a USB connection. Once set up, it will allow anyone in range to control Mi TV products using Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) connections. You’ll also be able to limit it to family members in your home, if you want.

<string name="uwb_permission_group">Permissions</string>
<string name="uwb_permit_dialog_all_desc">When everyone comes close to the UWB device, the device can be found and controlled via Magic Control.</string>
<string name="uwb_permit_dialog_title">Permissions for Magic Control</string>
<string name="uwb_permit_group_all">Everyone</string>
<string name="uwb_permit_group_home">Family members in same home</string>
<string name="uwb_reset">Reset</string>
<string name="uwb_support_device_title">Magic Control Device</string>
<string name="uwb_tag_need_reset_stranger_msg">The device has already been connected to Magic Control Bridge. Please press and hold the device reset button for 7 seconds to reset the device and try to connect again.</string>
<string name="uwb_tmp_no_device">No equipment</string>
<string name="uwb_user_guide">"Go to view the Beginner's Guide >"</string>
<string name="uwb_wifi_not_enabled">Please turn on the Wi-Fi.</string>
<string name="uwb_wifi_not_valid_5g">Magic Control Bridge Mate does not support 5G network, please switch the network to 2.4G</string>

The device sounds like it will offer similar functionality as Google’s remote app for Android TV, but potentially without requiring the remote device to be on the same Wi-Fi network or connected to the same Xiaomi account. The feature mirrors one of the demos Xiaomi created last year for UWB technology, which showed how pointing a phone at a TV could bring up remote controls on the phone. There’s no evidence at this point that the Magic Control Device will allow remote control of other devices, but perhaps that could be added later with software updates.

The bridge will seemingly require UWB hardware support, and Xiaomi doesn’t currently sell any phones or tablets with UWB. Xiaomi’s Mi MIX 4 will likely be announced on August 10th, which is believed to have the required chip for UWB, alongside a folding screen and under-display camera. Until then, you’ll have to stick with a boring old remote.

Mi Home
Mi Home
Developer: Xiaomi Inc.
Price: Free

About author

Corbin Davenport
Corbin Davenport

Corbin is a tech journalist and software developer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He's also the host of the Tech Tales podcast, which explores the history of the technology industry. Follow him on Twitter at @corbindavenport.