A group of fifteen global operators backed a push from Qualcomm to bring 5G-enabled VR and AR headsets to market in 2020, seeking to unlock a new generation of consumer and enterprise applications.

Efforts will focus on the delivery of what Qualcomm branded XR viewers, a category of devices which can be connected to a 5G smartphone to provide immersive experiences.

Headsets from a mix of vendors including Panasonic, Oppo, Pico, VLAVR, 3Glasses, iQiYi, Nreal and Shadow Creator are expected, with support offered on 5G handsets from Asus, OnePlus, Oppo, Black Shark, Vivo, Smartisan, Vivo and ZTE.

Operators signalled broad support for the initiative, with China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, EE, KDDI, KT, LG Uplus, NTT Docomo, Orange, SK Telecom, SoftBank, Telefonica, Verizon and Vodafone all signing on to sample or commercially offer XR devices.

The announcement follows Qualcomm’s debut of a 5G-enabled Snapdragon XR2 platform in December 2019 and XR hardware reference design in February, and comes as operators aim to nail down key 5G use cases.

Wang Hengjiang, deputy GM of China Mobile Group Device Co, in a statement said “XR is one of the first killer applications enabled by 5G and is also one of the key businesses for China Mobile in the 5G era”.

Sean Seaton, Deutsche Telekom SVP of group partnering and devices, said the marriage of XR devices and smartphone capabilities represents “a big step towards bringing these technologies to mass market”, adding the operator is already hard at work on an “exciting integrated XR service”.