Devices used in Augmented Reality: a comparison

(HUDs, holographic displays, smart glasses, smartphones)

Augmented Reality is using various devices for its activities. Those include optical projection systems, monitors, handheld devices, and display systems, which are worn on the human body. With its use we are able to experience an interaction between a real-world and a computer-generated one. The objects residing in the real-world are enhanced by virtual perceptual information. Very often across multiple sensory modalities like visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory. 




Head Up Displays are transparent displays presenting data without requiring users to look away from their usual viewpoints. A typical HUD contains three primary components:


·         a projector unit

·          a combiner (a viewing glass)

·         a video generation computer.


Heads up displays were mainly invented for mission critical applications like flight controllers and weapons system dashboards. Critical information is projected on transparent screens mounted in front of the pilot. This enables pilots to look forward outside rather than looking down inside the cockpit. HUDs help increase situational awareness by reducing the shift of focus for pilots. Although they were initially developed for military aviation, HUDs are now available for civil use in commercial aircraft, automobiles (new designs), and other applications. It is a revolution for automotive industry as those systems can project information on the windshield, tell you where to turn, notify you of lane markings, identify how close the car in front of you is and even give you restaurant information all right in front of your eyes – and while you’re actually able to see those objects or places with your head up! And it’s not only available for high-end vehicles. In 2012 Pioneer released an aftermarket head-up display unit that mounts to the top of a car’s cabin and can project information on the windshield. The system connects to a smartphone app through Bluetooth wireless technology and displays navigation instructions, points of interest and even road hazards.


A holographic display is a type of display that utilizes light diffraction to create a virtual three-dimensional image of an object. Thus, they don’t need the aid of any external equipment for a viewer to see the image. They can be used in various areas like education, business, offered services. For instance, it is an attention-grabbing tool perfect for exhibition stands, points of sale, product displays or reception areas. 



Smart glasses are wearable computer glasses that add information alongside or to what we see. They have become one of the more popular types of augmented reality devices. There are two types of them: Optical see through and Video see through glasses. They augment your vision by superimposing information onto a field of view is achieved through an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) or embedded wireless glasses with transparent heads-up display (HUD) or augmented reality (AR) overlay that has the capability of reflecting projected digital images as well as allowing the user to see through it, or see better with it.



In handheld or mobile AR, all you need is a smartphone to have the access to a host of AR experiences. More and more AR applications are being created so the world of AR spreads just in your hands. Handheld AR is a type of a video see through which you can basically experience anywhere you wish. There are augmented reality libraries which have enabled sophisticated computer vision algorithms to be available for anyone to use. The only thing left, is to download the application!

Different technologies are being used broadly as Augmented Reality is developing rapidly. Although not all of them are available casually for common people. Not but what, in the age of smartphones your AR experience with handheld devices is within reach. If you want to experience AR using just your smartphone, don’t wait any longer and download our free App!

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