The company says that a larger surface area would allow them to implement additional features, such as face and eye tracking.
Earlier this week, the United States Patent & Trademark Office published a new patent filed by Facebook back in 2019 that showcases a “unique” type of AR headgear.
First spotted by Founders Legal, the patent, entitled “Artificial Reality Hat,” details several different types of AR-enhanced hats with “artificial reality components,” including a baseball cap, visor, fedora, and cowboy hat. According to Facebook, the hat-based form factor would offer a wider range of benefits compared to AR glasses, such as Google Glass, which are limited technologically by their size and form factor.
“Manufacturers of artificial-reality systems have traditionally focused on various eyewear-based form factors, such as glasses and goggles,” states the company in the patent. “Conventional artificial reality glasses and goggles, however, are sometimes thick, heavy, and unbalanced and/or may generate excessive heat that is uncomfortable against a user’s skin. In addition, because these glasses or goggles are designed be worn on the bridge of a user’s nose, it is often difficult to incorporate advanced computing components.”
By adopting a hat-based form factor, Facebook claims that it can incorporate additional components to deliver more advanced AR experiences. The brim of a baseball cap, for example, could include key subsystems that would be impossible to implement on current AR eyewear, such as face, eye, and body tracking.
This would also, theoretically, improve the field of view by placing the lens further away from the user’s eyes as opposed to directly in front of them. This semitransparent lens could be folded up and down by the user, allowing easy access to AR content.
In addition to improved functionality, this hat-based form factor could also prove useful when it comes to comfort.
“In addition, since only a portion of these hats (when worn) are in physical contact with the user’s head, processors and other heat-generating components may be disposed in sections of the hat (such as the hat’s brim and/or portions of the crown) that are away from the user’s body, potentially resulting in a more complete or advanced system.”
Facebook goes on to detail how these AR-enhanced hats could be paired with accessories such as phones, gloves, and controllers for enhanced functionality and haptics, thereby turning your entire body into an advanced AR ecosystem. Damn, what a time to be alive.
As with any patent filed by the company, it’s impossible to say for sure whether or not Facebook’s plans for artificial reality hats will ever come to fruition. Still, it’s an incredibly interesting take on current AR headgear, one that could actually prove useful in solving the many issues plaguing modern AR eyewear.
For more information, check out the full patent for yourself via the United States Patent & Trademark Office website.
Feature Image Credit: United States Patent & Trademark Office