Forget AR glasses, according to a new patent The Social Network, registered by Facebook, is developing an AR hat that will expand the device’s immersion and enable more advanced AR experiences in an isolated, stand-alone unit.
The patent was discovered by Founder Legalwhich also provided a brief recap of some of the device’s key elements that suggest why Facebook might be looking for an AR hat as opposed to AR glasses (which Facebook is also developing).
“The display would be integrated into the brim of the hat to minimize contact with the user. In addition, heat-generating components required to operate the display with artificial reality can be treated similarly and integrated into areas of the hat that have no direct contact with the user, such as the brim. “
So a hat offers more spatial options for the required components than glasses alone, which could make it a better option for more immersive, freestanding AR use, while Founders Legal also notes that the device’s expanded surface area would allow for adding more digital sensors, including face tracking tools, microphones, environmental sensors, etc.
“The extra weight added by the artificial reality system can be evenly distributed across the entire hat band rather than some pressure points such as the user’s ears and bridge of the nose, making for a much more user-friendly and comfortable experience.”
Which all makes perfect sense – but would it look better?
That seems like a less relevant, perhaps even futile, consideration, but the fact is that if AR glasses don’t look good, even if they offer a benefit, people won’t wear them and gaining acceptance won’t be easy.
Google found this out the hard way with Google Glass, with the device’s geeky reputation quickly outweighing most, if not all, of its potential value. The device had other limitations, of course, but the optics of the glasses alone was seen as a major factor in the resistance to the market that eventually emerged ends its potential as a consumer product.
Snapchat knew this when developing Spectacles, which is why it has worked with various sunglasses designers to refine the look of the device over time, while Facebook has partnered with itself EssilorLuxottica, the makers of Ray-Ban to build their upcoming smart glasses, the first iteration of which is slated for release shortly
However, this first version is unlikely to be fully AR capable, as Facebook is now making its first foray into AR wearables as “smart glasses” that will allow wearers like Spectacles to capture images and videos of their real-world vision. along with some other features.
Perhaps an AR hat will be Facebook’s first real step into the AR wearable space. The added ability to include more items makes sense, and if they look sensible enough rather than wearing a space helmet when strolling through the local mall, this could be a viable option depending on where Facebook is going with it .
I mean, Facebook notes that there are several variations of the hat style in the. could give patent:
“The present disclosure describes a variety of approaches for integrating components of artificial reality into various hat-based form factors, such as baseball caps, visors, cowboy hats, fedoras, etc.
An AR fedora, my lady. I could imagine this ending badly.
It’s an interesting consideration – but it’s also worth noting that all of Facebook’s updates and disclosures about its AR tools in development make no mention of an AR hat. That could mean that the option was placed on the shelf – or figuratively hung on the hat shelf. The original filing date of the patent is June 19, 2019.
Either way, it’s interesting to watch the various developments in the AR / VR space, and especially where Facebook is working towards the next stage in its process.
You can check out the full Facebook AR hat patent Here.