For now, the most common way to enable augmented reality is through smart device apps, which overlay computer-generated content on the device’s camera feed. An AR application can scale to a number of simultaneous users, and the wide use of mobile devices with built-in cameras makes it possible to offer handheld AR experiences to the mass market.
Marker-based and location-based AR
Augmented reality presents digital information in real-world settings. To be able to do this, the AR system needs to know where the user is and what the user – or his/her mobile device camera – is looking at. AR apps are either marker-based or location-based.
Marker-based AR uses visual markers, such as QR codes or predefined images, placed on real-world objects to determine the position and orientation of the user’s camera and to trigger an AR experience. Marker-based solutions are mainly used in indoor environments.
Location-based AR makes use of location technologies, such as GPS and Bluetooth, to overlay location-specific digital content on physical places. GPS coordinates are utilised for outdoor AR experiences, while Bluetooth beacons can provide local position coordinates for AR experiences within buildings. Read how Stereoscape used Bluetooth beacon technology to deliver a location-based AR application for a shopping centre.
Despite limitations caused by the fairly small screen of mobile devices, handheld AR has wide-ranging applications in marketing, education, wayfinding, etc. AR can aid in visualising furniture in interior design and help people test clothes, makeup, glasses or haircut virtually. AR markers printed on product packaging can trigger digital content, such as recipes, product sustainability information, or an animated 3D character explaining product features and benefits. AR can link digital information with historical sites and other points of interest. It can show information on nearby restaurants, museums, metro stations and timetables, or shops and their special offers. Contact us to discuss how your company could benefit from AR.
Including industrial applications
AR has benefits in all tasks, where real-time 3D visualisation of information assists the human operator. AR can provide visual guidance in assembly, maintenance, repair and training – drawing worker’s attention to a particular part or showing instructions without having to skim through paper manuals. In AEC industry, AR can be used to visualise new building projects on real construction sites for a better understanding of how buildings will look like in the existing environment. On building sites, in factories or on the field, handheld AR has its limitations, as it does not support tasks that require both hands. See-through headsets are often a better alternative. Read more about headset-based AR and MR.