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Facebook and Microsoft patent filings offer dueling visions of small AR headsets

January 25, 2019 / JEREMY HORWITZ

Augmented reality headsets are too large for mainstream users, commonly sporting design elements that look inspired by Star Trek and Star Wars props. That’s about to change: After more natural-looking AR headsets were shown at the 2019 CES, patent documents submitted by Facebook and Microsoft show that both companies are trying to make AR glasses smaller and better.Facebook’s just-patented invention uses a new technique to fit a large-looking display inside a small headset. The invention creates a waveguide display using two parallel surfaces, potentially combining the output from multiple small projectors to create an image that both fills the eye and has a large eyebox. While similar results can be accomplished in a larger form factor, Facebook hopes to release a headset reminiscent of a standard pair of sunglasses.On the specifications front, Facebook offers two possible applications of its invention, one with a 60-degree diagonal field of view, the other considerably wi...