What is Augmented Reality and How it Works?

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Augmented Reality brings the elements of the virtual world into the real world. Therefore it enhances user experience by enhancing the way we see, listen and feel. AR bridges the gap between real and virtual world. In AR computer generated images are superimposed on real world.

To understand AR we suggest you also read this article on Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality.

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality

Augmented reality superimposes virtual information on top of real environment. As a result both real and virtual words co-exists.

Whereas Virtual reality isolates a user from real environment and brings them to simulated environments. This is achieved by wearing fully immersive VR devices.

Read this article for more details on Augmented reality vs Virtual Reality.

How does Augmented Reality Works?

AR works by overlaying virtual world onto the real world. For example when smartphone is used for AR application. Smartphone camera works as input device for real world. Virtual information is overlayed on real information. 

Types of Augmented Reality (AR)

According to how users interact with AR and Virtual information is overlayed on real world. AR can be classified in following types:

Marker Based Augmented Reality
To connect digital world with real world. Visual marker is added in the real world. Visual marker can be an image or QR code. Popcode and Google Lens are examples of marker based augmented reality apps.
Google Lens Working
  • Service engineer can get product installation and maintenance guidelines by scanning product on mobile AR apps.
  • Google lens is used image based searches. For example, user can search Landmark, product or pet information on google lens.
  • A user can get digital information in book by pointing mobile camera to visual marker. AR apps recognize visual marker and animation starts immediately.
Marker Less / Superimposition based AR

In MarkerLess AR, user can move virtual objects in real word. Marker Less Augmented Reality apps includes:

IKEA Marketplace App Working

IKEA AR based mobile application is used to visualize virtual furniture inside your house. This allows IKEA customers in visualizing furniture. 

Snap chat Lenses, Filters and effects is an example of marker-less AR.

Location-Based Augmented Reality

Location/Position based AR utilizes GPS, digital compass and accelerometer to provide data based on user location. Location based augmented reality apps includes:

Google Maps AR Feature
  • Location based AR is used for mapping, direction finding, nearby businesses tourist/ local guide, shopping centers and other location-centric mobile apps. 
  • Recently google integrated AR feature in google maps. AR mode works  during walking navigation. You can markup building streets and get more details about them.
Projection Based Augmented Reality

Projection based AR works by projecting light on real surfaces and then sensing the human interaction such as touch by differentiating between expected and altered projection.

It is also used to simplify the complex manual tasks during product manufacturing and assembly. It replaces paper based work instructions by creating digital operating canvas on any work space. 

Interactive hologram is one of the examples of projection based AR.

Augmented Reality Devices

Augmented reality devices can be classified in four categories.

    Heads Up Display

    These display devices are used to show complex information in a relatively smaller area. In this user can see the displayed information and interact with real environment. For example in a fighter plane, complete flight data is displayed in front of pilot and at the same time he interacts with plane consoles.

    Fighter Plane HUD Display
    HUD Display For CAR
    Smart Glasses

    Augmented reality smart glasses are available to provide user information on top of the real world. These devices are classified in two categories.

    Optical See Through Smart Glass: These devices have a clear glass and information is projected on that clear glass. e.g. Google Glass

    Smart Glasses with Camera: These devices utilize a camera and therefore real world information is displayed through camera feed. eg. HTC Vive Headset with camera.

    HTC VIVE Focus Plus
    Google Glass Enterprise Edition
    Holographic Display
    Holographic display do not require users to wear any device. Required information is displayed in 3D space.

    Holographic display do not require users to wear any device. Required information is displayed in 3D space. 

    Holographic display is a projection based augmented reality.

    Smartphone (Handheld AR)

    AR apps such as AR PokemonAR CityBlippar Urban Visual Positioning, google Map, Popcode and Google Lens can be installed on mobile apps. Therefore user can get AR apps experience on smartphone as well.

    Augmented Reality Applications

    AR is not only changing entertainment industry. It is changing the way we learn and interact with virtual world. AR applications include:

    Entertainment and Gaming Industry: Games and mobile apps such as Pokemon Go and Snap Chat improves user experience when it combines virtual world with real world.

    Education Industry: AR apps are helping students in learning difficult concepts.

    Medical Sector: Doctors utilizes AR devices during surgery to get real time patient information.

    Retail Industry: Retail industry such as IKEA is utilizing AR to improve user experience.

    Real-State Sector: Real-state sector companies are using augmented reality technology to showcase property to their customers before actually building them.


    To sum up, AR brings the elements of the virtual world into the real world. It enhances the user experience by the way we see, listen and feel. AR has applications from education, design manufacturing to entertainment industry. We suggest you to real this article on Augmented reality vs Virtual Reality.

    Got Questions?  We will be happy to help.

    If you think we missed Something?  You can add to this article by sending message in the comment box. We will do our best to add it in this post.

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