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What Are the Different Types of Augmented Reality Systems?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Augmented reality systems are similar to virtual reality systems but, instead of immersing someone in a different reality, augmented reality helps users in the real world. Headset- or glasses-based augmented reality systems change the user’s worldview and are usually more immersive than other types. Mobile augmented reality is attached to a mobile device such as a phone or personal data assistant (PDA) and commonly has location services. Projection augmented reality is most often seen on TV, showing viewers something that is not really there. Recognition systems look at an object, recognize it, and bring up additional information about the object.

The most immersive of the augmented reality systems are the headset and glasses types. These fit over the user’s head and project a semi-immersive world for the user. For example, whereas virtual reality places the user in an entirely computer-constructed reality, these systems overlap parts of the real world. If the systems are made to help with constructing a bench, then they may highlight the tools and parts needed for the bench, and they will tell the user how to assemble the bench with comprehensive instructions.

Mobile augmented reality systems are similar to headsets and glasses types, because both are technically mobile, but mobile systems are used on phones, PDAs and similar devices. These systems are rarely immersive and typically are location-based. For example, if the person points the system's camera at a restaurant, the system may pull up information on the restaurant’s menu and prices. Such systems normally will recognize the difference between two similar restaurants based on location, and will show the appropriate prices and menu.

TV is an area in which projection augmented reality systems are commonly used, particularly during news broadcasts and sports events. For example, if an athlete is close to breaking a record, a bar may appear showing how close the athlete is to the record. This bar is not real; it is simply projected to viewers and augments reality by making it easier for viewers to understand how well the athlete is doing.

Similar to mobile location-based systems, recognition augmented reality systems are used to bring up information on something. Unlike location-based systems, recognition systems typically do not take location into account. If someone scans or sees a barcode, product or building while using one of these systems, the systems usually will bring up further information on the item or, if it is a barcode, interpret the item.

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