Motorola has a new wearable 5G neckband that is designed to power lightweight VR and AR headsets (collectively known as XR headsets) such as parent company Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 smart glasses, the company announced today. The neckband looks a lot like a large plastic lanyard, and is equipped with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, a 5,000mAh battery, a touchpad, SIM card slot, speakers, and a range of sensors including a gyroscope and accelerometer, Engadget reports. Motorola says it’s partnered with Verizon on the neckband, which is able to connect to the carrier’s mmWave 5G network.
The idea is that the neckband, which Motorola doesn’t provide an official product name for, will be able to act as the brains and brawn for a connected VR or AR headset. By offloading components like a powerful processor and heavy battery, the headset itself can become lighter and more comfortable to wear. For example, Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 smart glasses are generally designed to be powered by laptops, but using them with a neckband could make them far more portable, similar to attempts to power AR and VR headsets using smartphones.
From the press images, the lanyard-style neckband looks a little goofy, similar to the various neckband speakers that have appeared over the years. But Motorola specifically cites enterprise users as one of its key target customers. In a statement, Verizon’s vice president of device technology Brian Mecum mentions “sports training and fan experiences, as well as making VR theaters scalable,” as some of the potential use cases for the neckband. So users might look a little silly wearing the accessory, but they’ll theoretically be surrounded by a crowd of people wearing the same thing.
Although its promotional images show the 5G neckband being used with Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 glasses, Engadget reports it’s also designed to work with other smart glasses. It’s reportedly compatible with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon VR platform, Microsoft’s Remote Network Driver Interface, and also features USB-C and DP1.4 ports.
There’s no information on how much the accessory will cost, when it’ll be available, or who its first enterprise customers might be. But Verizon’s Brian Mecum tells Engadget that the company is talking with partners in the retail space, sports leagues, and education.