The Ultimate Guide to Augmented Reality


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

After all, AR can do way more than transform your face or point you in the fitting direction. Its ability to create unique, immersive experiences makes it a worthwhile tool for marketers.

Here, we’ll walk through what AR is, the way it differs from virtual reality, its applications, and the way growing businesses should use it.

Table 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 stated above, augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced or altered type of reality where superimposed content gets added to real-world views.

Those Snapchat filters? Yeah, that is augmented reality. Pokemon Go? Totally augmented reality. Oculus Rift? Well, no. That is actually virtual reality, and we’ll get to that later. 

Augmented reality (AR) assists fighter pilots flying at nearly twice the speed of sound and helps surgeons to perform complicated procedures, but it surely wasn’t all the time this advanced or accessible.

History of Augmented Reality (AR)

AR technology was born at Harvard University in 1968. Ivan Sutherland, an electrical engineering professor, created a head-mounted display system, nicknamed “The Sword of Damocles.” Sounds intimidating, right? It was. The huge headset weighed a lot that it was anchored to the ceiling to operate. 

Over the subsequent several a long time, advancements in AR led to helpful aviation, military, and industrial simulation tools, however the technology didn’t gain a national audience until the late Nineties.

One in every of the primary widely visible uses of augmented reality got here from an unexpected source: the NFL. The yellow line signifying a first-down, the one we’ve got all grown to depend upon over the past 20 years, might be one of the vital visible and helpful uses of AR.

Since then, AR has evolved at a rapid pace and is getting used for each industrial and individual purposes. Between 2011 and 2013, AR was embraced by companies like Disney, Coca-Cola, and National Geographic to execute campaigns at large events and in public spaces like shopping malls and Times Square.

In 2014, Google released Google Glass — the primary mass-produced, wearable AR device — making it easy to get digital information just by nodding your head. Snapchat added the geofilter feature a number of months later, allowing users so as to add graphics showcasing geographic locations to their photos. They then introduced Lenses, a feature that maps users’ faces so as to add motion graphics to photos and videos.

As of the tip of 2017, 187 million people used Snapchat day by day. And that is just Snapchat. AR is now so popular that multiple social networks, businesses, and retailers use the technology. That is a number of augmented reality.

How Augmented Reality Works

Cameras and Sensors

To create augmented reality, you first must capture some actual reality with sensors and cameras that gather information on the users’ actual surroundings.

This real-time information is a backdrop for the experience. Smartphone applications simply use your phone’s built-in camera, while more complicated devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens use quite a lot of specialized built-in cameras.

Basically, AR experiences work higher with cameras that may read images in 3D, just like the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera, because the depth information allows for more realistic experiences.


AR also requires enough processing power to research inputs like acceleration, position, tilt, and depth in real-time to create immersive interactions. Fortunately for us, that is something our smartphones are actually able to doing without additional hardware.

Because of this, we now not must mount our AR devices to the ceiling just like the Sword of Damocles. But it surely wasn’t easy getting thus far. It took Google years to shrink the three cameras and spacial awareness sensors to a size sufficiently small to suit right into a phone.

As AR becomes more advanced, more devices will proceed to include the impressive technology.


After capturing real-world information, the augmented reality device then uses projection to layer digital renderings onto the scene. Currently, the projections display onto a smartphone screen or multiple screens inside a wearable device. It is also possible to project directly onto surfaces, removing the necessity for any headset or screen in any respect. 

5 Forms of Augmented Reality (AR)

Although all AR devices share a number of things in common, there are literally many sorts of augmented reality, and each is healthier fitted to different uses. On this section, we’ll quickly go over five several types of AR and a few of their strengths and weaknesses.

Types of Augmented Reality

1. Marker-based

Marker-based, or image recognition augmented reality, uses a trigger object as a cue to display content. The trigger may very well be something like a QR code or perhaps a cereal box. This kind of AR requires the smallest amount of processing power and is fairly easy to implement, but it surely isn’t as versatile as different kinds of AR since it relies on specific triggers being present.

A superb example is Ikea’s mobile app which enables users to “check out” different furniture of their home.

augmented reality: Ikea's mobile design app

(Image Source)

2. Markerless

Markerless augmented reality is more versatile than marker-based AR. As an alternative of trigger objects, such a AR uses cameras, GPS, and accelerometer information to trace where the user is and display relevant information. An example is Ikea’s mobile app which enables users to “check out” different furniture of their home.

This mixture of inputs is often called Simultaneous Localization And Mapping, or SLAM for brief. Most sorts of AR available today use SLAM for markerless experiences.

3. Projection-based

Because the name implies, projection-based AR projects digital images directly onto objects or surfaces inside the user’s environment. With projection-based AR, you might project a functioning keyboard in your desk.

This kind of AR negates the necessity for a screen or headset and allows users to create surreal experiences for big audiences. While impressive, projection AR is not all the time probably the most practical option for smaller scale uses.

4. Outlining

Outlining AR can be fairly self-explanatory. As an alternative of adjusting a complete scene, such a AR uses image recognition to stipulate boundaries and shapes. It’s mostly used to assist drivers see the sides of the road in low-light and to guide pilots towards landing strips.

5. Superimposition

Superimposition based AR uses object recognition to partially or entirely replace an object inside the user’s environment with a digital image. For instance, a physician can use such a augmented reality so as to add a digital x-ray over a part of a patient’s body during an operation.

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

We’ve covered some ins and outs of augmented reality, but you could still be considering, “all of this still sounds loads like virtual reality.” So what’s the difference?

For starters, VR typically gets a lot of the attention from high-profile products just like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headsets. Virtual reality also goes one step beyond AR to create entirely latest digital worlds.

When using VR, what you see and experience is different from what’s actually around you. What you see and listen to is entirely simulated. While this freedom creates a number of exciting opportunities, it also makes VR impractical for a lot of common tasks and means it is advisable to watch out when using headsets to avoid embarrassing situations.

AR is less intrusive and easier to use to on a regular basis life because it combines added digital elements with the physical world around you.

Augmented Reality (AR) Applications and Examples 

As you could have guessed, augmented reality has many uses beyond just digitally imposing flower crowns in your head or catching Pokemon. Since the technology is so adaptable, you should utilize AR nearly all the things.

Here we’ll speak about among the more popular applications for augmented reality and supply some examples of it in use.


As a frequent flier, I don’t search for an excessive amount of in my airlines. Just the fundamentals like quality food, complimentary drinks, in-flight movies, a checked bag or two, free Wi-Fi, live TV, priority lounges, and pilots who can take off and land the plane. Augmented reality helps with at the least certainly one of those things.

Corporations like Aero Glass have created augmented reality headsets that display airports, cities, navigation points, terrain features, other aircraft, and landing approaches for pilots. These features help pilots operate their planes, even when clouds or fog reduce visibility, which keeps flights secure and on time.

Air travel isn’t the one mode of transportation AR helps. If you happen to’re like most Americans, you likely spend a little over 12 days driving annually. Tools like WayRay’s Navion are changing the best way we drive by projecting navigation instructions onto the windshield of the automotive.

Navion also introduces gesture control commands to stop drivers from looking down at their phones to enter or change a route. Along with more intuitive navigation, these sorts of AR integrations have the potential to make roads safer by reducing the amount of time drivers spend looking away from the road.


While augmented reality can’t assemble your IKEA furniture for you, it might provide help to determine which Ypperlig or Ekedalen table would look best in your dining room.

With IKEA’s latest “IKEA Place” app, customers can preview over 2,000 pieces of virtual furniture in actual rooms inside their home. This “try before you purchase” model is not limited to Scandinavian furniture stores — architects and engineers are also using augmented reality to sample constructing materials, finishes, and layouts before committing to a direction.

And also you don’t must go right into a store to try on makeup anymore. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app allows users to try quite a lot of eye, lip, and cheek makeup by digitally adding it to an uploaded photo. The app also has pre-generated looks created by Sephora makeup artists and interactive tutorials that show how one can use different makeup products.

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

Apps like Virtual Artist remove barriers for consumers and help provide a transparent path to buy.


Augmented reality also has the potential to boost education and learning. AR can transform textbooks and classrooms by turning previously static charts and pictures into interactive experiences. Geology suddenly sounds loads more engaging when you may take apart the layers of a volcano — or dive lots of of miles beneath the Earth’s crust — using augmented reality.

Even flashcards, certainly one of the only studying tools, may be improved with AR. Apps like AR Flashcards Animal Alphabet help young children learn the alphabet by bringing their flashcards to life. The ABCs sound like loads more fun when the penguin from the “P is for penguin” card is standing in front of you.

Entertainment and Sports

Augmented reality is even changing the best way we buy tickets to the Super Bowl. For Super Bowl LII, StubHub rolled out a feature on their mobile app that allowed ticket buyers to see a virtual 3D model of the U.S. Bank Stadium in addition to the encircling area. This wasn’t the primary time the ticket exchange company has experimented with AR.

Previously, StubHub introduced “virtual view,” which allowed users to see a preview of the view from their seats before they bought a ticket. After launching that feature, StubHub saw engagement double in a year.

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

Major sporting leagues have also embraced augmented reality as a approach to enhance the viewing experience for his or her fans. The MLB’s popular “At Bat” app plans on adding AR features this season that may allow users to see statistics on each player, ball velocity and distance traveled, and other information in real-time just by pointing their phone at the sector.


Augmented reality’s ability to create unique, immersive experiences makes the technology a superb tool for marketers. Corporations like IKEA, TopShop, and Converse use AR to permit customers to “try” their products before purchasing. These digital trial runs make sampling significantly easier and faster for shoppers, which might result in more sales.

Even advertisements are made using AR. Many popular brands used AR in public spaces to please viewers and grab their attention. In 2014, Pepsi installed outward facing cameras in a London bus shelter and used a live feed to project UFOs, giant robots, balloons, and a tiger on the loose contained in the shelter. The experience made it look as if those scenes were actually happening on the road.

The creative use of AR paid off for Pepsi. A YouTube video of the installation topped 6 million views, making it one of the vital watched ad campaigns on YouTube on the time.


A few of the most promising applications for AR fall inside the healthcare industry. Today, medical students and doctors are using AR to learn or practice medical procedures. But AR’s usefulness is not only limited to life-threatening situations.

AccuVein, a Latest York-based company, uses AR to assist nurses find veins more easily when inserting IVs. This makes nurses’ and patients’ lives easier, increasing successful IV applications by 350%.

AR can be helping some patients with their recovery process. One company, called NuEyes, uses special AR glasses to assist individuals with severe vision impairment. With the technology, NuEyes may help legally blind children see well enough to read and recognize their classmates.

There’s even evidence that AR can help reduce excruciating phantom limb pain felt by amputees. By projecting a digital limb on to the patient, researchers were in a position to trick their brain into considering the amputated limb was still there. This projection, paired with electrodes, allowed patients to practice relaxing the digital limb to ease their pain.

How SMBs Should Use Augmented Reality (AR)

Like I discussed above, IKEA and Wayfair are allowing customers to put furniture of their homes without ever making an order, The Latest York Times is experimenting with AR news stories, and Starbucks is opening an immersive “coffee wonderland.”

But SMBs may profit from AR without writing a single line of code. Based on HubSpot Research, businesses who worked with Pokémon GO to make their storefronts into PokeSpots saw a $2,000 average increase in weekly sales as a result of additional foot traffic. Speak about a growth opportunity!

Growing businesses should make it a practice to look out for similar ways to inexpensively partner with existing AR experiences. If you happen to’d wish to create an AR experience of your personal, we recommend starting along with your customer journey and dealing outwards from there.

After all, any company can construct an AR application, but not all of them will provide value to their customers. AR should make it easier on your customers to interact along with your brand in a meaningful way that drives them to buy. For instance, if you happen to sell physical products, let your consumers imagine or try them at home.

If you happen to’re trying to choose between prioritizing AR or VR, we recommend AR. VR requires expensive, unique operating systems that only a small portion of the population has access to through expensive headsets,  while nearly all of people have an AR device right of their pocket — a mobile phone.

For businesses with an excellent idea and technical abilities, adopting AR early could repay in a giant way.


While augmented reality has been around for several a long time, we’re only just learning about and experiencing its true potential. AR’s ability to attach each the physical and digital worlds makes it adaptable for a lot of use cases. Its adaptations are helping to extend our productivity, lifestyle, and quality of entertainment.

Adoption of AR technology can have gotten off to a slow start, but with latest developer platforms, there’s no telling how popular this technology may very well be.


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