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.

Qualcomm Unveils its XR1 AR Smart Viewer Reference Design

Qualcomm XR1 Lifestyle

Mixed reality (MR) glasses are looking to become the new norm with models like the Nreal Light already available whilst concepts such as Samsung’s AR Glasses are still to come. One of the biggest proponents of this field is Qualcomm which has previously spoken about the influx of XR viewers. Today, Qualcomm has taken a step further into this area by announcing its XR1 AR Smart Viewer Reference Design.

Qualcomm XR1 AR Reference Design

Being a reference design it’ll never be available to buy in this exact form as it is intended to help OEMs reduce the time it takes to bring AR glasses to market. Designed to connect to compatible 5G smartphones, PC’s and other devices via cable, unlike simpler AR glasses where all the processing is supplied by an external device, Qualcomm’s XR1 AR Smart Viewer offers split-processing. That means computing workloads can be distributed between both devices seeing a ‘30% reduction in overall power consumption’ Qualcomm claims.

The XR1 AR Smart Viewer hardware design developed by Goertek features a micro-OLED binocular display from BOE, with a 90Hz refresh rate for a smooth experience; hand tracking, 6DoF tracking by two B&W cameras; plane detection and image stabilisation. Other specs include a 45-degree FOV, fixed IPD, a 220mAh battery, 2 speakers and 3 mics.

“The Snapdragon XR1 AR smart viewer marks a new chapter for our reference design portfolio and a big step in the evolution of AR viewers,” said Hugo Swart, vice president and general manager of XR, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. in a statement. “AR simple viewers showcased viewers as an accessory to a smartphone. Now, AR smart viewers allow us to move some processing to the glass, to expand the possibilities of use cases, applications and immersion -this reference design is the first step in our roadmap to help scale the AR industry.”

Qualcomm XR1 AR Reference Design

The first showcase of the XR1 AR Smart Viewer Reference Design actually occurred during CES 2021 last month. Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 glasses are powered by the Snapdragon XR1 Platform. The device is focused on enterprise solutions, set to come to market in mid-2021.

Qualcomm – like many companies – envisions these smart viewers as primary work tools, creating virtual monitors to write on or holographic models for training. But the consumer market will also be involved so you can watch videos on the train, check on your social media or play a videogame.

As more of these designs come to market, VRFocus will continue to keep you updated.

Lenovo Targets Mid-2021 For ThinkReality A3 AR Glasses

This week as part of CES 2021, Lenovo announced its new model of AR glasses, the ThinkReality A3.

The A3 is a successor to the ThinkReality A6 headset from 2019, which was an enterprise-focused AR headset aimed at taking on similar offerings from Magic Leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens.

“The smart glasses are part of a comprehensive integrated digital solution from Lenovo that includes the advanced AR device, ThinkReality software, and Motorola mobile phones,” said Jon Pershke, Lenovo Vice President of Strategy and Emerging Business. Like the A6, the A3 is an enterprise-focused AR device.

Inside the ThinkReality A3 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1, stereoscopic 1080p displays, an 8MP camera for 1080p video and dual fish-eye cameras for roomscale tracking. The headset will tether to a PC or select Motorola smartphones via USB-C, depending on the edition of the glasses.

The A3 PC Edition can tether to a laptop or PC in order to “enable users to position multiple, large virtual monitors in their field of view and use Windows software tools and applications.” Lenovo says the virtual monitors are “optimized and compatible” with its ThinkPad laptops and other mobile workstations that use Intel and AMD processors.

Lenovo ThinkReality A3

The A3 Industrial Edition will tether to Motorola smartphones that have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series or better, providing “hands-free, AR-supported tasks in complex work environments … supported by the ThinkReality software platform, which enables commercial customers to build, deploy, and manage mixed reality applications and content on a global scale.”

Lenovo says the ThinkReality A3 glasses will be available “in select markets worldwide starting mid-2021,” with no word on pricing.

Lenovo Unveils Enterprise-Focused ThinkReality A3 Smart Glasses at CES 2021

Lenovo ThinkReality A3

CES 2020 may have missed out on the pandemic thanks to its early January start but the 2021 event will no longer be the expansive tech show in Las Vegas, going digital like many others. Even so, tech companies are still revealing new hardware with Lenovo unveiling its ThinkReality A3 augmented reality (AR) glasses today.

Lenovo ThinkReality A3

An update to 2019’s ThinkReality A6 AR glasses, Lenovo’s new design offers a range of improvements over its predecessor – and not just a snazzier aesthetic. The ThinkReailty A3 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 platform (previously Snapdragon 845), has dual fish-eye cameras for 6DoF tracking, comes in at under 130g (down from 380g), has stereoscopic 1080p displays, and an 8MP RGB camera for 1080p video.

Designed for companies looking to increase efficiency and lower downtimes as well as improve remote collaboration, Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 glasses can be tethered to a PC (PC Edition) when in the office or select Motorola smartphones (Industrial Edition) – which have a Snapdragon 800 series processor or better – via a USB-C cable when out and about. The device supports features including voice and gesture recognition for hands-free control.

“The A3 is a next generation augmented reality solution – light, powerful and versatile. The smart glasses are part of a comprehensive integrated digital solution from Lenovo that includes the advanced AR device, ThinkReality software, and Motorola mobile phones. Whether working in virtual spaces or supporting remote assistance, the ThinkReality A3 enhances workers’ abilities to do more wherever they are,” said Jon Pershke, Lenovo Vice President of Strategy and Emerging Business, Intelligent Device Group in a statement.

Lenovo ThinkReality A6
Lenovo ThinkReality A6

There’s been no indication of price at the moment but companies will be able to get hold of the Lenovo ThinkReality A3 smart glasses in select markets from the middle 2021.

2021 is likely to see a boom in wearable AR tech as companies continue to adjust to remote, socially distanced collaboration. Whilst enterprise use cases will dominate adoption, the consumer market isn’t being ignored with the likes of Nreal Light slowly becoming available through mobile network carriers. Plus Facebook and Ray-Ban’s smart glasses are expected this year.

For further AR updates from CES 2021, keep reading VRFocus.

Lenovo to Sell Varjo’s Enterprise VR Headsets

Lenovo desktop workstation + Varjo headsets

Computing giant Lenovo may have been interested in consumer virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) in the past with devices like the Mirage Solo and Mirage AR but now its firmly focused on enterprise use cases. Today, the company has announced its become a reseller for Varjo‘s high-end, enterprise-class headsets.

Varjo’s latest range of headsets includes the mixed reality XR-1 and the new VR-2 & VR-2 Pro, with pricing starting from €4,995 EUR for the VR-2. They come with Varjo’s unique display design, the Bionic Display. It’s made up of two screens, a small 3000ppi display for fine, close up detail and a larger, lower-resolution ‘Context Screen’ to provide a wider field of view (FoV). While the VR-2 Pro features Ultraleap hand tracking.

Enterprise customers will now be able to purchase the headsets directly through Lenovo, either by contacting a local Lenovo representative or via the “Contact Us” link on

“Many existing VR offerings in the market today are enterprise versions of a consumer designed product,” said Mike Leach, solution portfolio lead, Lenovo in a statement. “However, Lenovo’s professional workstations and Varjo’s VR and XR headsets are specifically engineered to perform in the most sophisticated and demanding enterprise use cases. Our ability to offer customers a single point of purchase for certified workstations and VR/XR devices streamlines access to the tools needed for immersive workflows that are changing the way we work today.”

Varjo XR-1 Developer Edition

The announcement also adds more certified Lenovo workstations to the Varjo compatible catalogue for companies looking for a suitable pairing. These are:

Optimized to support the VR-2, VR-2 Pro and XR-1 devices:

  • ThinkStation P520
  • ThinkStation P720
  • ThinkStation P920

Optimized to support the VR-2 and VR-2 Pro devices:

  • ThinkPad P53
  • ThinkPad P73
  • ThinkPad P15
  • ThinkPad P17

“One of the biggest obstacles in accelerating the usage and growth of professional VR/XR is getting all the right equipment sourced for an enterprise-grade set-up and ensuring compatibility between computers and headsets,” said Timo Toikkanen, CEO of Varjo. “With Lenovo becoming a Varjo reseller, we eliminate a lot of this complexity, making it even easier for customers to adopt VR/XR in the workplace for increased productivity and ROI.”

When it comes to Lenovo’s own XR solutions the company has partnered with Pico on the 3DoF Mirage VR S3 headset and its ThinkReality A6 AR device is primarily used for training and education solutions. For further updates from Lenovo, keep reading VRFocus.