You can now buy a $130 hat with speakers from Atari for some reason

Atari’s return to hardware comes in the form of a hat. No, that’s not some kind of social media acronym you may have missed – a hat, as in headgear. To be more specific, it’s a baseball cap with a twist – albeit a twist that literally nobody asked for.

The baseball cap has been around in some form or other since 1858. In the intervening 159 years, the design has changed very little, with humanity concentrating on more pressing developments. The baseball cap, to all intents and purposes, was firmly in the “done” column.

Atari disagrees. In a move that could generously be described as pointless, the firm best known for its games and consoles has taken a step into dubious fashion with the Speakerhat. And no, sadly it doesn’t get any better than the name which reveals its USP: it has speakers embedded in the bill.

Actually, that’s generous. It really only manages the “U” of the “USP”. Unless Atari has found a significant market in making its customers unpopular on public transport as efficiently as possible, speakers are just not something people look for in headwear.

The speakers themselves connect via Bluetooth, and the hat has a built-in microphone for voice calls – although it will be the equivalent of having all your calls on speakerphone should you actually want to use that feature.[gallery:2]

Better still, if you find another person in the world who owns one, then Atari boasts the Speakerhat has a multiplayer mode, making it the first hat-based multiplayer game since Butt Head. With “social synchronous broadcast technology”, multiple Speakerhat wearers will be able to listen to the same audio stream simultaneously.

Nonetheless, Atari claims that the Speakerhat “feels natural and normal to wear for long periods of time”. The plan is apparently to “continuously improve on design and engineering until the technology is completely invisible”.

Atari might well get their wish. I can definitely see this technology being invisible in no time at all – in much the same way that Betamax and pager technology have been invisible for the past couple of decades. It’s available to buy right now for a $130 (or around £97), although if you buy before 2 January you’ll save around £22 on that ridiculous price of admission. 

That price is, to put it mildly, optimistic – but it looks like the company has taken a small step towards reality. When looking for beta testers earlier this year, the company estimated that the full bundle (comprising of a hat, a T-shirt, and a copy of Atari Flashback for PS4 or Xbox One) was worth $300. Either that T-Shirt was exceptionally high quality, or the beta test made them reassess the concept of value…

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