Motorola Announces 5G Necklace for VR Headsets

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Motorola was among the first consumer technology companies to get into 5G, pushing a 5G “mod” for its phones back in 2019 when 5G networks were barely live. The company’s innovation lab has continued thinking about 5G, and it has come up with something new: 5G on a necklace. It’s actually less ridiculous than it sounds. 

The unnamed 5G neckband is the latest innovation from Motorola’s 312 Labs, which is focused on developing new mobile technologies. The technology being advanced here isn’t 5G, though. It’s AR and VR, sometimes referred to collectively as XR. The XR neckband leverages how 5G mobile devices work right now — there’s basically an entire smartphone in the pendant. 

You might recall the 5G Moto Mod had a Snapdragon 855 CPU and a dedicated 5G radio inside, making it a display away from being its own smartphone. The 5G necklace is similar but more modern. It has a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 inside, which has an integrated 5G radio capable of connecting to Verizon’s mmWave and low-band 5G networks. It also has a 5,000mAh battery, a touchpad, speakers, and sensors like a gyroscope and accelerometer. So, instead of having all that computing hardware attached to your XR glasses, you have it hanging around your neck. 

It’s probably not the greatest fashion statement, but the image above is clearly a hasty photoshop. The real deal won’t look like it’s hovering a foot in front of your chest. It wouldn’t even need to hang around your neck, but that’s Moto’s pitch. 

A 5G millimeter wave cell site on a light pole in Minneapolis.

The necklace is reportedly compatible with any smart eyewear that runs the Snapdragon VR platform or Microsoft’s Remote Network Driver Interface. As an example, Moto used the Lenovo ThinkReality A3 smart glasses, which are intended for use with computers. However, they have USB-C and DP1.4 ports, allowing you to power them with the XR necklace. The fact of the matter is, having all that hardware hanging around your neck is more comfortable than having it on your face. Anyone who has tried to wear a Meta/Oculus Quest 2 for any length of time can attest to that. 

Motorola is not expecting consumers to snap up a 5G necklace. This product is aimed mostly at enterprise customers. Motorola talks about sports training, fan experiences, and VR theaters as possible use cases for the technology. It hasn’t talked about the cost or release timeline for the 5G pendant, but it probably won’t be cheap. It has most of the parts that go into a flagship phone, including those spendy 5G antenna modules and a chipset that is already in short supply. 

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