Xiaomi recently announced their new CC9 smartphone, which features a Super AMOLED display and a 32 MP selfie camera. Though these new hardware features should be in the limelight, the new Mimoji feature is getting a lot of flack for allegedly being a direct copy of Apple’s own Memoji feature.
Now, smartphones have been copying each other since the very first iPhone was released, with every other smartphone using the same basic elements of having a touch-screen, a camera, and Internet capability. The problem lies with Xiaomi themselves, who have been known to “borrow” things here and there.
So what is Mimoji? Well it is Xiaomi’s new AR avatar feature coming in the new Xiaomi CC9 models. And what is Memoji? It’s the AR avatar feature that Apple introduced with the iPhone X models through the Messages app back in 2017. Basically, through augmented reality, a user’s face and facial expressions can be motion captured by the phone, so that the user can control 3D cartoon characters, creating funny faces and the like to send to family and friends.
Obviously, a lot of comparisons have been drawn from these two separate smartphone features. First of all, the name is a little too on the nose, though they do come from different derivations. Apple’s Memoji name comes from the portmanteau of the words “me” and “emoji”, while Xiaomi’s Mimoji comes from the combination of the “mi” in Xiaomi and “emoji”. So it’s a minor contrivances in the grand scheme of things.
Another comparison is of course in the way it functions, both have you utilising the phone’s selfie camera to scan your face and capture its motions and depth on to move the 3D model accurately. It’s the same technique they would use on movies and video games to make animated characters behave like real people, albeit without the dots the actors have to put on their faces to accurately capture the movements. Though of course, this comparison boils down to functional logic more than pure copying.
This leads us to the biggest credence, the way these 3D avatars look between the two apps. They’re eerily similar, with face shapes and available colour schemes being uncanny between the two. One would have to look closely to see the minor differences between them. This is why no comparisons have been made to Samsung’s AR Emojis, which look pretty creepy compared to Memoji and Mimoji’s more rounded and pleasant looking avatars.
So what does Xiaomi have to say over this accusation of plagiarism? Well according to them, they’ve been offering this feature since 2018, under the name “Mi Meng”, with Mimoji being a new name being introduced to the English speaking market. They’ve gone so far as to challenge journalists on Weibo over this massive accusation. Many have also pointed out that Apple themselves aren’t the first to use the Memoji name, implying that they themselves are the copycats.
All in all, it is up to the consumers to decide who did what first and which smartphone is right for them. Who knows what other innovations in the future will be up for grabs for smartphone developers to fight over in the near future. Let’s hope it’ll be holograms next.