Motorola & Verizon Aim to Reduce XR Headset Bulk With 5G Neckband

When it comes to mass-market adoption of virtual reality (VR) headsets or augmented reality (AR) glasses one of the biggest issues the industry faces is that of bulk. Lenses, screens, batteries and processors, it’s quite a lot to have perched on your face. Progress has been made to redistribute some of the hardware, with the latest idea from Motorola and Verizon being a “5G Neckband” to help make head-worn devices lighter.

Lenovo ThinkReality A3
Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3

As reported by Engadget, the companies have taken the approach where the neckband will house components like the processor, connectivity (5G/WiFi) and the battery, leaving the headset/glasses to purely focus on the visual aspect. Thus reducing overall weight whilst encouraging a smaller form factor.

Details released so far showcase the device being paired with Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 smart glasses – Lenovo is the parent company of Motorola – although there’s mention that the intention is for the neckband to work with other devices.

As for specifications, the 5G Neckband will contain a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 5,000mAh battery; a touchpad, a SIM card slot, and a charging light indicator. All in a form factor coming in at 54 x 97mm (2.1 x 3.8 inches) and weighing 100 grams (3.5 ounces). Then there’s all the connectivity and sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer and GPS all feature as well as the 5G antennae. And that’s just the front pendant.

Magic Leap
Magic Leap One with its external processor.

That’s right, the neckband has a rear “trapezoid-shaped module” which houses antenna and stereo loudspeakers weighing 75 grams (2.6 ounces). There’s no imagery of the rear unit but the companies have said both are connected via coaxes and signal lines. As you can see from the solitary image the cabling looks quite chunky with a magnetic attachment.

“We took a smartphone and exploded it around your neck,” said vice president of technology at Verizon Brian Mecum. “We don’t introduce new form factors or new compute platforms very often in the industry. If we can make it easier for kids to learn and we can make it easier for people in sports leagues to learn without the complexity and friction of big heavy things around their head, it’ll change.”

Details regarding pricing and availability have yet to be revealed but Motorola and Verizon did mention talks are underway with several major partners.

The idea of taking components like the processor and battery out and making them external to the main headset is nothing new. Devices like Magic Leap have been doing that for years but this is a more novel attempt at making an easily worn (almost) fashionable system.

As further details are released, gmw3 will keep you updated.