Types of Augmented Reality

two engineers stand in a room looking at a large Augmented Reality engine part

Augmented Reality (AR) is the most recent bandwagon sweeping people’s imagination. It’s exciting—it’s the future, and the types of augmented reality are unquestionably a leading edge that’s constantly taking people from using digital on a device to immersing themselves inside the metaverse. 

Augmented reality gets classified into two main groups: markerless AR and marker-based AR, with the latter being the most basic iteration of this technology. In turn, within markerless AR, there are four subtypes: overlay AR, projection-based AR, location-based AR, and contour AR.

What Are The Different Types Of Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is incredibly diverse, broad, and complicated. Still, the major technology giants such as Google, Apple, and Intel work on expanding their reach across respective value chains and MVPs, as many more early adopters level the playing field. 

These tech companies are developing new experiences integrated into the platforms where users spend most of their time.

But how? Easier asked than answered. So, to better understand how you can use AR, let’s walk through the different types of augmented reality.

Marker-Based AR

Marker-based AR uses target images (markers) to align objects in a particular area. These markers specify where the app will position the 3D digital content within your scope of view.

This method needs a QR reader or optical marker reader (O.M.R.) to act as a fiduciary marker between the AR device and the physical object. Once you point the camera at the image, the integrated program scans and evaluates the image’s data.

The AR then analyzes the image’s details with various cells in the system’s storage to create a digitally-descriptive experience.

In short, these applications connect to a particular tangible image pattern marker in a real-world setting to insert the 3D virtual object on it.

Industrial 4.0  Augmented reality concept to highlight Types of Augmented Reality

Therefore, the cameras must continuously scan the input to generate its geometry and set a marker for visual pattern recognition. The virtual object won’t be visible if the camera’s focus is off.

Marker-based is an easy and affordable technology to integrate into filters using a unique application to recognize particular patterns through a camera, i.e., in smartphones.

Markerless AR

In contrast to marker-based AR, markerless AR registers a relationship with real-world objects using alternative data types.

According to a study by Franklin Institute, markerless AR can provide visual effects without using image recognition. Instead, the technology detects positioning information, such as the orientation of various objects and the distance between them, using the camera, location software, and device accelerometer.

The hardware of any smartphone—including the camera, GPS, and accelerometer, among other components—is used for this guiding, while augmented reality software handles the rest.

This form of guidance depends on the technology of any smartphone, including the camera, GPS, and accelerometer, among others, and uses augmented reality software to do the task.

The absence of an object tracking system in this model is a result of current technological advancements in cameras, sensors, and AI algorithms.

As a result, it functions using the digital information gathered by these sensors, which can capture a physical space in real-time.

It’s complex to create markerless AR, though the technology is increasingly outperforming its marker-based rival among forward-thinking manufacturers and aggregators.

Consequently, there are four variants of markerless AR:

Location-based AR

Location-based Augmented Reality refers to markerless, position-based, and geo-based AR. This type of markerless AR doesn’t require unique markers to pinpoint the location of virtual objects.

Location-based AR depends on GPS, a digital compass, an accelerometer, and other technologies to pinpoint a device’s position and location accurately.

Most modern mobile devices come with the necessary sensors, making this powerful technology accessible to all mobile users.

Location-based AR has been around for years, but the Pokémon GO mobile game put the tech on the map in 2016.

The popularity of Pokémon GO provided incentives and opened doors for numerous investments in geo-AR games and location-based AR use cases. For this reason, you can find geo-based augmented reality applications in various industries, including entertainment, real estate, navigation, retail, and tourism.

Projection-based AR

As the name implies, this augmented reality (AR) projects digital images onto real-world items. Projection-based AR doesn’t need a phone and a tablet to show content.

Instead, an object or surface gets illuminated to project the digital visuals, giving you an interactive experience.

For example, you can use it to display a prototype or mockup of a new product, even dissecting each component to reveal its inner workings better.

Overlay AR

The term “augmented reality overlay” describes the use of digital information to supplement the real-world surroundings captured by a phone’s camera.

For instance, a product’s packaging can include a QR code to scan. When you scan that code, your phone’s browser activates the unique AR experience. 

couple using Augmented Reality to buy furniture

Then, as though interacting with it and bringing it to life, digital features get introduced in conjunction with the physical packaging. Overlay AR can provide more product details after the scan is complete.

Contour-based AR

Contour-based augmented reality utilizes object recognition to analyze and understand your immediate surroundings.

It uses SLAM to outline the silhouettes of objects and replicate a natural human connection. So, for instance, you can use the contour AR when driving in low-light situations.

How Augmented Reality Works

Augmented reality magnifies our physical world by overlaying it with digital data layers. However, contrary to Virtual Reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) does not entirely create artificial surroundings to replace actual ones with virtual ones. 

Outdoor LCD touch screen a night
Outdoor LCD touch screen a night

Instead, augmented reality (AR) adds videos, audio, and graphics when used in conjunction with an existing environment.

Screens, mobile phones, handheld devices, eyewear, and head-mounted displays are just a few gadgets that may showcase augmented reality.

Also, to be successful, the AR involves technologies like simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), depth tracking (basically, a sensor data that calculates the distance to the objects), and the following components:

Artificial Intelligence

Augmented reality and artificial intelligence work hand in hand to help you complete specific projects. As a camera and its sensors scan a particular scene, augmented reality overlays 3D graphics on the screen. 

On the other hand, artificial intelligence gives the data and instructions of the computer to scan patterns in the data and carry out orders according to these instructions.


For your AR technology to function, you’ll typically need to get into the device’s underlying operating system: GPU, CPU, RAM, GPS, flash memory, Bluetooth/WiFi, etc. They help you measure speed, direction, angle, orientation in space, and other parameters.


Lenses are a common feature of AR gadgets, which help your eyes view virtual images. The goal of these lenses is to perform a proper image alignment.


AR contains different sensors ( Magnetometer, Accelerometer, Gyroscope) that help it sync the digital world with the actual world and process data of its surroundings.

Brief History Of Augmented Reality

AR dates back to the 1960s when Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull developed the first head-mounted display called The Sword of Damocles. It was an unrefined device that showed primitive computer images.

In the mid-1970s, Myron Krueger developed an artificial laboratory called Video Place. The physicist foresaw how human motions would interact with computer devices.

Ronald Azuma produced a survey in 1997 that defined the field, listed numerous issues, and provided an overview of the recent advancements up to that point.

Steve Mann created the first wearable portable computer, named EyeTap, in 1980. Then, in 1987, Douglas George and Robert Morris created a heads-up display prototype that presented astronomical data over the actual sky.

The 1990s gave birth to the term “augmented reality,” which surfaced for the first time in the research of Boeing Company researchers Thomas Caudell and David Mizell. In 1992, the Boeing researchers launched their first successful AR venture and virtually started training their manufacturing staff using AR.

Employees at Boeing employed heads-up display (HUD) headgear and computer-aided design (CAD) technology to more precisely diagnose, track down, and rectify manufacturing flaws.

Smart AR devices called HUD displays made it easier to identify damaged airplane parts visually.

In the 2000s, a few companies like Trimble Navigation and Wikitude started integrating AR into their innovations.

Google beta tested the Google Glass in 2013; it connects to the internet through Bluetooth. In addition, Microsoft unveiled Windows Holographic and HoloLens, two brand-new technologies, in 2015.

Niantic released the mobile game Pokemon Go in 2016. With $2 million in revenue in its first week alone, the software completely revolutionized the gaming business.

Since then, augmented reality growth has continued soaring as different companies level the playing field.

What Are The Differences Between AR And VR

AR (Augmented Reality) is a seamless fusion of the digital and physical worlds that produces an artificial environment.

You can create AR-enabled apps for desktop or mobile devices to seamlessly integrate digital aspects into the physical world.

As an illustration, AR technology enables score overlays on sports broadcasts and the popping out of 3D images, texts, and emails.

On the other hand, virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-created replica of an alternate world or reality. It helps you construct simulations that are accurate to the real world and “immerse” the viewer by utilizing computers and sensory technology like gloves and headsets.

According to a study by Kumar Naveen, With AR, you can engage with the virtual world while interacting with real-world objects. But when using VR technology, you get blocked from the real world and submerge yourself in a fictitious one.

Types Of Augmented Reality Devices

man using smart device to project Augmented Reality machine part onto a desk.jpg

Nowadays, many gadgets support augmented reality. They include:

  • Mobile devices
  • Smart glasses
  • Specialized AR devices
  • Virtual Retinal Displays (VRDs)

Types Of AR Apps

The best feature of augmented reality is that it is usable by regular people, primarily via mobile devices. Such evolution has come with the best fit AR mobile apps designed for various uses. Here are the different forms of augmented reality apps.

  • Product visualization AR app
  • Projection-based AR app
  • Superimposition-based AR app
  • Location-based-AR app
  • Recognition based AR

Adoption Of AR Worldwide

Once viewed as a niche product in gaming and entertainment, AR sees increased use in various fields, including healthcare, education, and global marketing.

Some industry heavyweights that use AR software to maximize productivity include Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

Online businesses are also increasingly implementing augmented reality (AR) technologies to enable product previews for potential customers. 

For example, Shopify, an online retail platform, reported that products that included a “preview with AR” option on its platform had a 94 percent increased conversion rate.

Softek shows the number of people using AR from 2019 (0.44) to 2024 (1.73).

What Are Some Real World Examples Of Augmented Reality?

School children with Augmented tablet and sofytware

Here are the various examples of real-world AR:

  • Pokémon Go App
  • Google Pixel’s Star Wars Stickers
  • L’Oréal Makeup App
  • The Sun-seeker AR app 
  • AR in browsers
  • Augmented Reality Toys


The augmented reality industry is seeing a quick influx of new developments and applications, assisting businesses in finding fresh approaches to utilize this technology.

While the market is utilizing this cutting-edge innovation to appreciate its potential, it’s also exploring and developing the underlying principles of augmented reality technology.

Round Up

The power of augmented reality continues evolving in already existing enterprises, and we can only expect more companies to reduce the gap between imagination and reality. 

However, several complexities are involved in blending the physical and digital worlds. But one thing is sure: Augmented Reality is here to stay and as cool as heck! So, jump on the bandwagon and explore this technology!  

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