What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is really moving the world. This technology has brought about a diversity of the way humans see things, and it has been applied in various fields. In this guide, we’ll talk about the importance of augmented reality. You should go through this guide to learn about augmented reality.

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is the use of computer technology to display layers of digital content to the real world. The technology dates back to the 1960s but the widespread use of smartphones made AR accessible to everyday consumers. AR is often used with laptops, smartphones, and tablets, where digital images and graphics intersect and interact with the real world to enhance the experience. After capturing the input from the devices, the AR application identifies the target, processes the image, and augments it with pictures, video, and audio to create an illusion that can effectively engage users in a virtual world. The hardware components of AR include:

  • Sensors/tracking: Digital cameras and other optical sensors, accelerometers, GPS, gyroscopes, solid-state compasses, RFID, and wireless sensors
  • Input devices from users: Microphones, touch screens, gesture devices, stylus, pointers, and gloves or other body wear
  • CPU and display/output devices: Smart glasses, lenses, laptops, smartphones, and tablets

How does augmented reality work?

In order to overlay digital content in a real-world environment, AR needs a device with a camera and AR software such as a smartphone, a tablet, or smart glasses.

The AR software uses computer vision to process the video stream captured by the camera and to recognize objects in the environment. This allows the AR system to project virtual content to a relevant place.

Then, it displays the digital content on top of the real environment through the display device in a realistic way.

What are the different types of augmented reality (AR)?

There are different types of augmented reality technology that are proper for different types of tasks. The two main types of AR are:

  • Marker-based AR applications are triggered by specific physical images (markers) captured by the camera to position the digital content on top of it. A marker can be an object or a visual such as logos, posters, or QR codes. The video below demonstrates a marker-based AR. The business card acts as a marker for the AR application which displays additional digital information after it encounters the card.
  • Markerless AR does not depend on markers and lets users decide where to display the digital content. Markerless AR applications rely on the camera, GPS, compass, and accelerometer of the device to gather information about the environment.

There are also different types of markerless AR technology:

  • Superimposition-based AR detects the objects in the real world and partially or fully replaces their original view.
  • Projection-based AR does not need a display device as it projects light onto a surface to display digital objects.
  • Location-based AR provides augmentation in specific places. It uses the device’s GPS and compass to position the virtual object at a point of interest. Pokemon GO mobile game is a popular example that uses location-based AR.

What is the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality?

Knowing the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality is important in order to understand the two technologies.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are different concepts that are often confused with each other. In VR, the user is involved in a completely new virtual world through supporting hardware like headsets.

AR, on the other hand, integrates virtual elements into the real world, allowing users to continue interacting with their current environment. Take a look at this short video clip from Black Mirror, in which they talk about AR as “the layers on top of reality.”

Will there be a winner in the presumed contention of these two popular technologies? Augmented reality and virtual reality are different technologies that cater to different needs. Rather than being two rivals, they complement each other and help the overall development of display technologies.

The fact that they have strengths and weaknesses relative to each other does not necessarily put these two shining technologies in unnecessary competition. On the contrary, an alternative where AR and VR work in harmony may be the winner of this extended reality race.

What is augmented reality used for?

Augmented reality can be used for a lot of uses. You can improve daily activities or innovate your services as an entrepreneur.

Augmented reality, or AR, is a technique that adds layers to the world as we are used to it. These layers could be visual, auditory, and sensory information to intensify your experience. Companies make use of augmented reality methods to boost their products, get significant data and launch marketing campaigns. In everyday life, Pokémon Go is probably one of the best-known AR examples.

Think about those really awesome sneakers you want to buy. Local shops don’t have the items you’re looking for, so you buy online. But, will they match your favorite outfit, and will you still like them once they’re on your feet? With AR technology, you can try the sneakers on at home. Problem solved.

Benefits of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality 4 has major benefits that cannot be denied in any way. In fact, they are tangible and deliver measurable results that brands have already started leveraging AR to their advantage. Here is a quick brief of the benefits of Augmented Reality.

  • Creates unique customer experiences

The biggest advantage of Augmented Reality is that it creates unique digital experiences that blend the best of the digital and physical worlds. Also, it does not need any special hardware or software to savor the experience.

Mainstream smartphones and mobile apps are sufficient to experience Augmented Reality. In fact, the latest developments in AR have even made it possible to experience immersive experiences through web browsers.

Now how AR experiences are unique compared to other experiences? The most common audio-visual experiences we know of exist either in the physical realm or in the digital realm. Augmented reality, for one, blends both realities. It places digital components atop physical components thus creating a mirage effect.

For example, users can point their smartphones at a tourist attraction when near its vicinity. When viewed through the screen, the AR app places digital snippets on the screen thus allowing the user to consume both the physical and digital information synchronously. A perfect example of this is the Apple Park Visitor Center.

Visitors at the Apple Park Visitor Center can explore the locale at various times of the day and night through an iPad.

  • It eliminates cognitive overload

Have you ever tried repairing an automobile by referring to a manual? If not, give it a shot and you will quickly realize what a bad idea is. Nothing against support manuals and docs, but, most often they do not help amateur users make sense of how to fix something. Especially if it is a new model that does not resemble the previous car’s makes and engineering.

What we are referring to here is the cognitive information load. Cognitive overload happens when your working memory is made to process a huge chunk of more information than otherwise, it can handle comfortably. When you are unable to handle it, it leads to frustration and hampers your decision-making. This is exactly the reason why amateur users struggled fixing something by referring to lengthy and detailed support documents.

Can Augmented Reality solve this problem? Augmented reality presents information in neatly summarized digital snippets. It spares the user from having to process too much information to arrive at a conclusion. Be it to identify a component by size or to see the popularity of a restaurant with a star rating, AR can help users take quick decisions without cognitive overload.

This might seem too futuristic, but, there are brands that have already implemented AR-based mobile applications that are helping users do more with less time.

  • Heightens use engagement

When it first became popular, Augmented Reality was largely labeled as a technology for gaming and entertainment. However, with time it has expanded into several other use cases that can deliver solid business gains. Heightened user engagement is one such gain.

In 2021 and beyond, if there is one priority that ranks top on the agenda of most business leaders, it is improving user engagement. User engagement is like the gateway to several other benefits. From more spending to brand loyalty it can yield countless gains for a growing as well as an established business. The challenge is in serving the right material at the right time to the use that will make them engage.

Years ago, brands were mainly able to engage with users through print because of the large user base. However, in 2020, 83.1 million consumers in the US were estimated to have used AR on a monthly basis (three kits)

Scannable product labels, interactive ads, catalogs, store signage — there are countless ways how AR can be used to heighten user engagement. The novelty of the technology combined with its ability to deliver information in a quick and snackable makes it engaging for users.

To cite a real-world example, Pepsi’s bus stop ad in London caught more eyeballs and attention than any print and TV ad could have. It was pulled off with the help of Augmented Reality. Perhaps it is the single best campaign that showcases the advantages of Augmented Reality in Advertising.

  • Competitive differentiation

In a market where all competitors are offering homogenous products at the same price band, it is necessary for brands to differentiate themselves. For so long, brands have used traditional advertising channels and the creative possibilities within them to differentiate themselves.

Augmented Reality will help them go out further with creative campaigns that will position them differently in a crowded market.

Let’s take Nike as an example. The sportswear market is definitely one of the most crowded and thickest markets there. Although Nike has been around for a long time, maintaining its market position and continuing to attract millennial customers needs extra effort. Especially when the competition is on the heels of new innovative products.

Nike was able to cement its position as a global brand and a pioneer in marketing with its AR app. If you have been shopping for shoes recently, you know how difficult it could be to find the right size shoe. Sometimes the brand measurements don’t match your physical size. To help customers find their sizes easier, Nike has introduced an Augmented Reality tool. The tool uses your smartphone camera to scan your feet and returns the exact size you should be going with.


In a nutshell, augmented reality has a lot of benefits to offer. the question should not be, whether to adopt Augmented Reality, but how soon can it be adopted?

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