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Augmented Reality - Everything You Want to Know

Augmented Reality - Everything You Want to Know

You know about Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram masks, right? If so, keep reading since 4k Download team prepared a full guide on AR use.

Augmented reality or AR is our current reality supplemented by information or digital objects in real-time. Don’t confuse AR with other types of reality - VR (virtual reality) and MR (mixed reality).

VR does not contain actual reality at all, and MR is a hybrid of the two. You can create AR with smartphones, tablets, or special glasses. You sure know all these masks with cat faces on Instagram and Snapchat, or PokemonGo and Google Glass - all of these are augmented reality examples.

But apart from entertainment and games, AR is used in somewhat usual and yet useful apps, and we don’t even think about augmented reality in there.

  • Google Translate is a perfect case of AR, which every one of us used at least once. The service can translate texts which are captured by a camera in real-time.

  • Google Sky Map helps to see what stars are in the sky at the moment.

  • AirMeasure allows to size up anything around you.

When and how did AR emerge?

Now let’s dive into the AR history. Augmented reality as we know it today appeared from VR developments. In 1962, a filmmaker Morton Heilig invented the Sensorama, the game that provided experience of riding a motorcycle on the Brooklyn streets. The development was not only about visual objects, but also vibration, wind, a 3D view, and even city smells. Though Sensorama was a VR invention, it gave a start to the AR development.

The first truly AR invention was The Sword of Damocles designed by Harward professor Ivan Sutherland and his student in 1968.

The Sword of Damocles consisted of glasses with a stereoscopic display which got a simple image from the computer. As a user moved their head, the prospect changed, so a mechanism allowing to track the eyes movement was invented.

Other milestones of AR development were Videoplace, EyeTap, and Navicam.

Navicam, a mobile AR prototype invented in 1995 is very similar to what we see on our smartphones today. Navicam is a portable display with a camera adjusted to its back. Camera’s video stream was processed by a computer, and as soon as the color mark was spotted, the display showed the information about the object.

Where is AR used?

Though AR is well-known to all of you thanks to funny Snapchat masks and video games, it’s not only entertainment where AR is widely applied. But still, let’s talk about AR use starting with this field.


This clearly is the primary field where augmented reality is shown: first-person shooters, AR games, AR quests, photo editing tools, etc. Night Terrors, Snapchat, and Pokemon Go are just to name a few. Pokemon Go is undoubtedly a success. The game became so popular not only because of AR but also thanks to geo-tracking and the popularity of the fandom as a whole. The game was so new and fresh that more than a hundred million users downloaded it.

Lego and Disney are not going to stay behind, either. The companies are now developing their own AR games.

But AR is also part of something more essential and serious.


In the era of eCommerce and digital marketing, it’s very complicated for businesses to grab customers’ attention. So marketers have to create new ways of promoting products and services. AR is a relatively new approach used in ads. Marketers use (or even create from scratch) special AR apps so that people could download them and see actual products with additional interactive elements.

One of the examples is the Heineken commercial. The brand mixed AR and music.

Timberland created a virtual dressing room for their Polish customers.

With AR, Coca-Cola transformed a coke can into a music player.

BMW, while presenting their MINI model in several german in-print magazines, made the model become 3d and allowed to examine it thoroughly.


Augmented reality is in common use in surgery. With AR, surgeons’ microscope oculars will become a thing of the past. In 2017, new stereoscopic systems were developed. To let surgeons have a more precise image of what they work with, this AR technology uses data to create templates for doing specific tasks within a surgery.

AR can be easily used not only in operations but in diagnostics as well. More illustrative ultrasounds, MRI, assistants for the blind or deaf are possible thanks to augmented reality.


Guidance systems, infantry AR systems, sensor imagery with integrated mapping, navigation, and 3D surface models are the augmented reality technology used in the military.


Yes, there are AR examples, even in print magazines like Esquire. In 2009, one of the Esquire editions animated Robert Dawney Jr. as soon as someone scanned the cover.


The industry has skyrocketed in recent years. Imagine how convenient this is when travel agencies let their customers have a look at their destination point, putting on AR glasses. With augmented reality implemented in the travel industry, selling trips becomes a lot easier.

As you can see, augmented reality is not about Pokemon Go or Snapchat. AR technology is applied in different serious fields. And the potential growth of the AR use and development is remarkable. Augmented reality is and will be applied in education, design, public safety, repair and maintenance, and other areas.

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