The Ultimate Guide to Augmented Reality


What does Pokémon GO, Google Avenue View, and Snapchat filters have in frequent? They’re all examples of augmented actuality (AR).

After all, AR can do far more than remodel your face or level you in the precise path. Its potential to create distinctive, immersive experiences makes it a beneficial software for entrepreneurs.

Right here, we’ll stroll via what AR is, the way it differs from digital actuality, its functions, and the way rising companies ought to use it.

Desk of Contents

What is augmented reality?

How Augmented Reality Works

The History of AR

5 Types of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented Reality Examples

How SMBs Should Use Augmented Reality

As we acknowledged above, augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced or altered type of actuality the place superimposed content material will get added to real-world views.

These Snapchat filters? Yeah, that is augmented actuality. Pokemon Go? Completely augmented actuality. Oculus Rift? Nicely, no. That is truly digital actuality, and we’ll get to that later. 

Augmented actuality (AR) assists fighter pilots flying at almost twice the pace of sound and helps surgeons to carry out sophisticated procedures, however it wasn’t all the time this superior or accessible.

Historical past of Augmented Actuality (AR)

AR know-how was born at Harvard College in 1968. Ivan Sutherland, {an electrical} engineering professor, created a head-mounted show system, nicknamed “The Sword of Damocles.” Sounds intimidating, proper? It was. The large headset weighed a lot that it was anchored to the ceiling to function. 

Over the subsequent a number of a long time, developments in AR led to useful aviation, navy, and industrial simulation instruments, however the know-how didn’t acquire a nationwide viewers till the late Nineties.

One of many first broadly seen makes use of of augmented actuality got here from an surprising supply: the NFL. The yellow line signifying a first-down, the one we have now all grown to rely on over the previous 20 years, might be one of the crucial seen and useful makes use of of AR.

Since then, AR has developed at a fast tempo and is getting used for each industrial and particular person functions. Between 2011 and 2013, AR was embraced by companies like Disney, Coca-Cola, and Nationwide Geographic to execute campaigns at massive occasions and in public areas like buying malls and Occasions Sq..

In 2014, Google launched Google Glass — the primary mass-produced, wearable AR gadget — making it simple to get digital data just by nodding your head. Snapchat added the geofilter feature a number of months later, permitting customers so as to add graphics showcasing geographic areas to their images. They then launched Lenses, a function that maps customers’ faces so as to add movement graphics to images and movies.

As of the tip of 2017, 187 million people used Snapchat every day. And that is simply Snapchat. AR is now so in style that a number of social networks, companies, and retailers use the know-how. That is a whole lot of augmented actuality.

How Augmented Actuality Works

Cameras and Sensors

To create augmented actuality, you first have to seize some precise actuality with sensors and cameras that collect data on the customers’ precise environment.

This real-time data is a backdrop for the expertise. Smartphone functions merely use your cellphone’s built-in digital camera, whereas extra sophisticated units like Microsoft’s HoloLens use a wide range of specialised built-in cameras.

Usually, AR experiences work higher with cameras that may learn photos in 3D, just like the iPhone X’s TrueDepth digital camera, for the reason that depth data permits for extra sensible experiences.


AR additionally requires sufficient processing power to investigate inputs like acceleration, place, tilt, and depth in real-time to create immersive interactions. Luckily for us, that is one thing our smartphones are actually able to doing with out extra {hardware}.

Because of this, we not have to mount our AR units to the ceiling just like the Sword of Damocles. Nevertheless it wasn’t simple getting up to now. It took Google years to shrink the three cameras and spacial consciousness sensors to a dimension sufficiently small to suit right into a cellphone.

As AR turns into extra superior, extra units will proceed to include the spectacular know-how.


After capturing real-world data, the augmented actuality gadget then makes use of projection to layer digital renderings onto the scene. At present, the projections show onto a smartphone display screen or a number of screens inside a wearable gadget. It is also attainable to project directly onto surfaces, eradicating the necessity for any headset or display screen in any respect. 

5 Varieties of Augmented Actuality (AR)

Though all AR units share a number of issues in frequent, there are literally many sorts of augmented actuality, and each is healthier suited to completely different makes use of. On this part, we’ll rapidly go over 5 various kinds of AR and a few of their strengths and weaknesses.

Types of Augmented Reality

1. Marker-based

Marker-based, or picture recognition augmented actuality, makes use of a set off object as a cue to show content material. The set off could possibly be one thing like a QR code or perhaps a cereal box. One of these AR requires the least quantity of processing energy and is pretty simple to implement, however it isn’t as versatile as different kinds of AR as a result of it depends on particular triggers being current.

instance is Ikea’s cellular app which allows customers to “check out” completely different furnishings of their dwelling.

augmented reality: Ikea's mobile design app

(Image Source)

2. Markerless

Markerless augmented actuality is extra versatile than marker-based AR. As a substitute of set off objects, such a AR makes use of cameras, GPS, and accelerometer data to trace the place the person is and show related data. An instance is Ikea’s cellular app which allows customers to “check out” completely different furnishings of their dwelling.

This mixture of inputs is called Simultaneous Localization And Mapping, or SLAM for brief. Most sorts of AR accessible at present use SLAM for markerless experiences.

3. Projection-based

Because the title implies, projection-based AR tasks digital photos immediately onto objects or surfaces throughout the person’s atmosphere. With projection-based AR, you possibly can mission a functioning keyboard in your desk.

One of these AR negates the necessity for a display screen or headset and permits customers to create surreal experiences for big audiences. Whereas spectacular, projection AR is not all the time essentially the most sensible possibility for smaller scale makes use of.

4. Outlining

Outlining AR can also be pretty self-explanatory. As a substitute of adjusting a complete scene, such a AR makes use of picture recognition to stipulate boundaries and shapes. It’s mostly used to assist drivers see the sides of the highway in low-light and to information pilots in the direction of touchdown strips.

5. Superimposition

Superimposition based AR makes use of object recognition to partially or completely change an object throughout the person’s atmosphere with a digital picture. For instance, a health care provider can use such a augmented actuality so as to add a digital x-ray over a part of a affected person’s physique throughout an operation.

Augmented Actuality (AR) vs. Digital Actuality (VR)

We’ve lined some ins and outs of augmented actuality, however you should still be pondering, “all of this nonetheless sounds rather a lot like digital actuality.” So what’s the distinction?

For starters, VR sometimes will get many of the consideration from high-profile merchandise just like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headsets. Digital actuality additionally goes one step past AR to create completely new digital worlds.

When utilizing VR, what you see and expertise is completely different from what’s truly round you. What you see and listen to is completely simulated. Whereas this freedom creates plenty of thrilling alternatives, it additionally makes VR impractical for a lot of frequent duties and means you must watch out when utilizing headsets to keep away from embarrassing situations.

AR is much less intrusive and simpler to use to on a regular basis life because it combines added digital components with the bodily world round you.

Augmented Actuality (AR) Purposes and Examples 

As you could have guessed, augmented actuality has many makes use of past simply digitally imposing flower crowns in your head or catching Pokemon. As a result of the know-how is so adaptable, you should use AR nearly all the pieces.

Right here we’ll discuss a few of the extra in style functions for augmented actuality and supply some examples of it in use.


As a frequent flier, I don’t search for an excessive amount of in my airways. Simply the fundamentals like high quality meals, complimentary drinks, in-flight motion pictures, a checked bag or two, free Wi-Fi, reside TV, precedence lounges, and pilots who can take off and land the aircraft. Augmented actuality helps with no less than a type of issues.

Corporations like Aero Glass have created augmented actuality headsets that show airports, cities, navigation factors, terrain options, different plane, and touchdown approaches for pilots. These options assist pilots function their planes, even when clouds or fog scale back visibility, which retains flights secure and on time.

Air journey isn’t the one mode of transportation AR helps. When you’re like most People, you doubtless spend a little over 12 days driving every year. Instruments like WayRay’s Navion are altering the best way we drive by projecting navigation directions onto the windshield of the automobile.

Navion additionally introduces gesture management instructions to stop drivers from wanting down at their telephones to enter or change a route. Along with extra intuitive navigation, these sorts of AR integrations have the potential to make roads safer by lowering the quantity of time drivers spend wanting away from the highway.


Whereas augmented actuality can’t assemble your IKEA furnishings for you, it might enable you to resolve which Ypperlig or Ekedalen desk would look greatest in your eating room.

With IKEA’s new “IKEA Place” app, clients can preview over 2,000 items of digital furnishings in precise rooms inside their dwelling. This “strive before you purchase” mannequin is not restricted to Scandinavian furnishings shops — architects and engineers are additionally utilizing augmented actuality to pattern constructing supplies, finishes, and layouts earlier than committing to a path.

And also you don’t want to enter a retailer to strive on make-up anymore. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app permits customers to strive a wide range of eye, lip, and cheek make-up by digitally including it to an uploaded photograph. The app additionally has pre-generated appears created by Sephora make-up artists and interactive tutorials that present tips on how to use completely different make-up merchandise.

augmented reality: Sephora's Virtual Artist(Image Source)

Apps like Digital Artist take away obstacles for customers and assist present a transparent path to buy.


Augmented actuality additionally has the potential to boost training and studying. AR can remodel textbooks and lecture rooms by turning beforehand static charts and pictures into interactive experiences. Geology all of the sudden sounds much more partaking when you may take aside the layers of a volcano — or dive tons of of miles beneath the Earth’s crust — utilizing augmented actuality.

Even flashcards, one of many easiest learning instruments, will be improved with AR. Apps like AR Flashcards Animal Alphabet assist younger youngsters study the alphabet by bringing their flashcards to life. The ABCs sound like much more enjoyable when the penguin from the “P is for penguin” card is standing in entrance of you.

Leisure and Sports activities

Augmented actuality is even altering the best way we purchase tickets to the Tremendous Bowl. For Tremendous Bowl LII, StubHub rolled out a function on their cellular app that allowed ticket patrons to see a digital 3D mannequin of the U.S. Financial institution Stadium in addition to the encompassing space. This wasn’t the primary time the ticket alternate firm has experimented with AR.

Beforehand, StubHub launched “digital view,” which allowed customers to see a preview of the view from their seats earlier than they purchased a ticket. After launching that function, StubHub noticed engagement double in a year.

augmented reality: StubHub's Virtual View(Image Source)

Main sporting leagues have additionally embraced augmented actuality as a option to improve the viewing expertise for his or her followers. The MLB’s in style “At Bat” app plans on including AR options this season that may permit customers to see statistics on every participant, ball velocity and distance traveled, and different data in real-time just by pointing their cellphone on the discipline.


Augmented actuality’s potential to create distinctive, immersive experiences makes the know-how a superb software for entrepreneurs. Corporations like IKEA, TopShop, and Converse use AR to permit clients to “strive” their merchandise earlier than buying. These digital trial runs make sampling considerably simpler and sooner for customers, which may result in extra gross sales.

Even ads are made utilizing AR. Many in style manufacturers used AR in public areas to thrill viewers and seize their consideration. In 2014, Pepsi installed outward facing cameras in a London bus shelter and used a reside feed to mission UFOs, big robots, balloons, and a tiger on the free contained in the shelter. The expertise made it look as if these scenes had been truly occurring on the road.

The inventive use of AR paid off for Pepsi. A YouTube video of the set up topped 6 million views, making it one of the crucial watched advert campaigns on YouTube on the time.


Among the most promising functions for AR fall throughout the healthcare trade. At present, medical college students and docs are utilizing AR to study or follow medical procedures. However AR’s usefulness is not simply restricted to life-threatening conditions.

AccuVein, a New York-based firm, makes use of AR to assist nurses discover veins extra simply when inserting IVs. This makes nurses’ and sufferers’ lives simpler, rising successful IV applications by 350%.

AR can also be serving to some sufferers with their restoration course of. One firm, referred to as NuEyes, makes use of particular AR glasses to assist folks with extreme imaginative and prescient impairment. With the know-how, NuEyes may help legally blind children see effectively sufficient to learn and acknowledge their classmates.

There’s even proof that AR can help reduce excruciating phantom limb ache felt by amputees. By projecting a digital limb on to the affected person, researchers had been in a position to trick their mind into pondering the amputated limb was nonetheless there. This projection, paired with electrodes, allowed sufferers to follow enjoyable the digital limb to ease their ache.

How SMBs Ought to Use Augmented Actuality (AR)

Like I discussed above, IKEA and Wayfair are permitting clients to put furnishings of their houses with out ever making an order, The New York Occasions is experimenting with AR news stories, and Starbucks is opening an immersive “espresso wonderland.”

However SMBs also can profit from AR with out writing a single line of code. In response to HubSpot Research, companies who labored with Pokémon GO to make their storefronts into PokeSpots noticed a $2,000 average enhance in weekly gross sales because of extra foot visitors. Speak about a progress alternative!

Rising companies ought to make it a follow to look out for related methods to inexpensively companion with current AR experiences. If you would like to create an AR expertise of your individual, we advocate beginning together with your buyer journey and dealing outwards from there.

After all, any firm can construct an AR utility, however not all of them will present worth to their clients. AR ought to make it simpler on your clients to work together together with your model in a significant method that drives them to buy. For instance, in the event you promote bodily merchandise, let your customers think about or strive them at dwelling.

When you’re making an attempt to resolve between prioritizing AR or VR, we advocate AR. VR requires costly, distinctive working techniques that solely a small portion of the inhabitants has entry to via costly headsets,  whereas the vast majority of folks have an AR gadget proper of their pocket — a cellphone.

For companies with a fantastic thought and technical skills, adopting AR early may repay in a giant method.


Whereas augmented actuality has been round for a number of a long time, we’re solely simply studying about and experiencing its true potential. AR’s potential to attach each the physical and digital worlds makes it adaptable for a lot of use instances. Its variations are serving to to extend our productiveness, way of life, and high quality of leisure.

Adoption of AR know-how might have gotten off to a gradual begin, however with new developer platforms, there’s no telling how in style this know-how could possibly be.

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