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Now as easy as it is to poke fun at Facebook AR hat patent, it is hard to fault Facebook for trying

One of the biggest hurdles for augmented reality devices is design: No one wants to wear an obvious gadget on their face. Realizing the issues Google Glass had with gaining consumer traction, it seems Facebook may embrace a unique design for a future wearable. Folks, it’s a baseball hat.

Unearthed this week by Gizmodo and originally spotted by Founders Legal, Facebook’s augmented reality baseball cap takes those virtual reality headsets people have been wearing and somehow makes people look even more silly.

The Facebook "Artificial reality hat" – FAR Hat for short – is depicted in illustrations as a baseball cap with a ski goggles-style lens dangling from its brim. But it could be any hat – the patent claim extends to "different hat-based form factors, such as baseball caps, visors, cowboy hats, fedoras," and so on.

AR Baseball Cap

While it's tempting to muse about the possibility of artificial reality top hats, sombreros, and deerstalkers, the type of hat isn't really the point. For Facebook, hats solve the problem presented by AR glasses. They provide more surface area to affix electronics and better weight distribution opportunities. Better still, these expansive skull scaffolds can keep heat-generating components away from the head, resulting in more efficient heat dissipation and less thermal discomfort.

The patent was filed back in 2019 by Andrew Bosworth, the vice president for Facebook’s virtual and augmented reality division. So far, Facebook hasn’t commented on the patent. But it’s gearing up to launch a smart glasses product later this year. Facebook is also the company behind the Oculus VR headsets.  

Now as easy as it is to poke fun at Facebook’s AR hat patent, it’s hard to fault Facebook for trying. Microsoft, Apple, HTC, and more are all working on creating their own next-gen AR headsets, so it’s clear the push for connected AR devices is going to be a major trend in the coming years. And with no company having really nailed the design for AR glasses that are comfortable, stylish, and easy to use, it can’t hurt to think a bit outside of the box.

It's an interesting consideration - but equally, it is also worth noting that in all of Facebook's updates and disclosures on its in-development AR tools, it's made no mention of an AR hat. That could mean that the option has been shelved - or hung up on the hat rack, metaphorically speaking. The original filing date for the patent June 19th, 2019.

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