Motorola has come up with a method to reduce the size and weight of VR and AR headsets by using a 5G enabled neckband.
Many people are put off by the large sizes and heavy weights of headsets to use VR and AR (known collectively as X). This is one barrier that XR glasses makers have to deal with. However, Motorola has designed what appears as a practical solution; a wearable neckband!
The neckband, still nameless, will be equipped with all the components needed by the headset to function, including a 5G modem, a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, a 5,000 mAh battery, a SIM card slot, speakers, etc. The neckband will also include sensors like a gyroscope and accelerometer.
Motorola has made the neckband appear unassuming, like a large plastic lanyard or bulky necklace. It consists of a rope-sized cable that goes around your neck, which attaches with bits of magnet and a credit card-sized module hanging on the rope. The neckband is black with a red barrel that connects to the headset in the current version. The company collaborated with Verizon, making the neckband compatible with its mmWave 5G network.
With this configuration, the neckband becomes the brain for the headset, making it possible to reduce the size and weight of what a user places on their head or face. This method is not exactly new, as even Lenovo, the parent company of Motorola, has designed its ThinkReality A3 smart glasses to be powered by laptops. However, the neckband implementation is very much more compact and portable. Other companies have experimented with powering XR headsets with smartphones.
The new neckband will be familiar to folks who already use neckband speakers connected to smartphones through Bluetooth. This kind of ‘earphones’ has become popular in recent times.
Motorola claims it is targeting enterprise users with the neckband instead of consumers. It also plans to market it at sports training and ‘fans experiences.’ The company also sees a role for the neckband in VR theater operations. Users could all wear headsets in a cinema and enjoy the same content in the last usage scenario.
The neckband has been shown to work with Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 glasses, but it will also work with other smart glasses. For example, the neckband is compatible with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon VR platform Microsoft’s Remote Network Driver Interface and features USB-C and DP1.4 ports.
Motorola has not released any information on pricing and availability. The company hasn’t even dropped the names of any enterprise clients that have signed up already, although it claimed it is having talks with partners in the retail, sports, and education industries.
“Motorola 312 Labs is focused on exploring new and developing opportunities in mobile technology, including innovative wearables and form factors,” said Jeff Snow, Product General Manager at Motorola. “With this collaboration, we’re further strengthening our partnership with Verizon to solve new challenges in the industry and advance consumer and enterprise AR use cases.”
“Motorola’s wearable neckband and ultra-lightweight AR smart glasses leverage Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network and mobile edge compute platform, enabling us to deliver immersive technology in many fields, such as sports training and fan experiences, as well as making VR theaters scalable,” said Brian Mecum, Vice President of Device Technology at Verizon.
Mecum further said, “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.”