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4 Main Types of Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) has become an increasingly popular technology in recent years, offering a unique and immersive experience to users.

AR involves overlaying virtual objects onto the real world, typically through the use of a camera and a screen. There are various types of augmented reality, each with its own set of benefits and limitations.

In this article, we will explore the different types of augmented reality and provide examples of how they are being used in different industries.

From marker-based AR to projection-based AR, we’ll delve into the key features of each type and discuss their applications in fields such as gaming, education, and healthcare.

Whether you’re new to the world of AR or a seasoned pro, this post will provide valuable insights into the different types of augmented reality and how they can be leveraged for various use cases.

Table of Contents

  • What is augmented reality
  • Types of Augmented Reality
  • Marker-based AR
  • Markerless AR
  • Projection-based AR
  • Superimposition-based AR
  • Advantages and Limitations of The Different Types of Augmented Reality
  • Conclusion

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes virtual objects onto the real world, creating a mixed reality experience for the user.

This is typically achieved through the use of a camera and a screen, which overlay the virtual objects onto the physical environment.

AR technology has gained immense popularity in recent years, with applications in various industries such as gaming, education, healthcare, and retail.

Types of Augmented Reality

There are four main types of augmented reality, each with its own unique characteristics and applications. Knowing the different types of augmented reality helps you optimize the technology for your business and day-to-day life.

Here are the different types of augmented reality.

1. Marker-based AR

Marker-based AR, also known as image recognition AR, uses markers or codes to trigger the display of virtual objects.

These markers can be anything from QR codes to specific images or patterns. When the camera captures the marker, the AR application recognizes it and superimposes the virtual objects onto the real world.

This type of AR is commonly used in advertising, gaming, and entertainment.

Examples of marker-based AR can be seen in applications like Snapchat filters, where users can overlay virtual objects onto their faces using facial recognition technology.

In the gaming industry, the popular mobile game Pokemon Go uses marker-based AR to allow players to capture virtual Pokemon characters in the real world.

2. Markerless AR

Markerless AR, also known as location-based AR, does not require markers or codes to trigger virtual object display.

Instead, it uses the device’s GPS, accelerometer, and compass to determine the user’s location and orientation, and then overlays virtual objects accordingly. This type of AR is commonly used in navigation, tourism, and retail.

An example of markerless AR is the Yelp Monocle feature, which overlays restaurant and bar locations onto the user’s camera view based on their GPS location.

Another example is the IKEA Place app, which allows users to place virtual furniture in their homes using their smartphone camera and AR technology.

Related: How to Use Augmented Reality to Improve Your Advertising Campaigns

3. Projection-based AR

Projection-based AR involves projecting virtual objects onto real-world surfaces, such as walls, floors, or tables, rather than overlaying them on the camera view. This type of AR is commonly used in advertising, entertainment, and education.

An example of projection-based AR is the Disney Dreams show at Disneyland Paris, which projects virtual images and animations onto the Sleeping Beauty Castle, creating an immersive visual experience for visitors.

The Magic Planet exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London, which uses projection-based AR to bring the Earth to life, showing real-time data and animations on a 3D globe, is another good example of projection-based AR.

4. Superimposition-based AR

Superimposition-based AR, also known as recognition-based AR, involves replacing the entire view of the camera with a virtual one.

This is typically achieved through the use of head-mounted displays or smart glasses, which project the virtual view onto the user’s field of vision.

This type of AR is commonly used in industrial and medical applications.

Examples of superimposition-based AR can be seen in medical training, where doctors can use AR technology to simulate surgeries and visualize complex medical procedures.

In the industrial sector, AR technology can be used to overlay maintenance information onto equipment, making it easier for technicians to diagnose and repair machinery.

Advantages and Limitations of The Different Types of Augmented Reality

Each type of augmented reality has its own advantages and limitations, depending on the application and use case.

Marker-based AR is relatively easy to implement and is well-suited for entertainment and gaming, but requires specific markers or codes to work. Markerless AR is more flexible and can be used in a wider range of applications, but may have accuracy issues in certain environments.

Projection-based AR can create a more immersive experience, butrequires a specific physical space and may be limited in terms of mobility. Superimposition-based AR can provide a fully immersive experience and is well-suited for specialized applications, but requires more advanced hardware and may be more expensive.

However, the important things to consider when deciding which type of AR to use for a specific application, are factors such as accuracy, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness.


Augmented reality technology offers a wide range of possibilities for creating immersive and interactive experiences for users.

Understanding the different types of AR and their applications can help businesses and individuals to leverage this technology for their own purposes.

As AR technology continues to evolve and become more accessible, we can expect to see even more innovative applications and use cases in the future.

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