Understanding display techniques in Augmented Reality

NIIT Digital
7 min readOct 21, 2021


Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash

Originally published at https://www.niit.com/india/

Augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced edition of the real world, that is attained through the use of digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory bases transmitted via technology. It is a thriving trend among businesses involved in computing, and business applications in particular. The primary goal of augmented reality is to emphasise particular features of the physical world and understand those features to derive smart and accessible knowledge that can be applied to real-world applications.

On the contrary, Virtual reality (VR) is replacing the real world with a computer-generated environment. In this, a person interacts within an artificial three-dimensional climate using electronic equipment, such as specialised goggles with digital screens or sensory gloves. The user experiences a realistic feeling after using this technology.

In other words, AR is different from VR, as AR augments the real world as it exists with graphical overlays without creating a fully immersive experience.

Display techniques in Augmented Reality

There are two main techniques for showing visuals in AR depending on the region of the display mediums.

  1. Handheld augmented reality

Handheld augmented reality is a common method used in smartphones and tablets to show AR content. It only needs basic hardware for the AR system. Touch screen interaction is one of the common interaction methods used in handheld AR, but this method is not as easy as it looks. Recent research indicates that the Freeze Interaction technique shows its efficacy in handheld touch screen AR interaction. The freeze interaction technique enables users to freeze the augmented view and then interact with the virtual content while the camera image is stationary. However, it has a drawback, such as when users freeze their view, it sometimes freezes the whole computer scene. This situation will be problematic when users will have to handle the current, up-to-date real-world situation. To overcome this problem of the Freeze Interaction technique, developers have enforced a new freeze technique called ‘Freeze-Object’ for more detailed interaction. The handheld augmented reality gained popularity after the release of gaming applications like Pokémon Go and Ingress.

  1. Headset based augmented reality

The headset based augmented reality brings an entirely new set of challenges both in terms of typography and typefaces. In many situations, the text evidence acts as a supplement to the main point of focus. For instance: while driving and checking location-based information, the road is the main focus.

The amount of time to process the information is very limited, and legibility is a significant factor that can improve the reading experience.

The headsets are intersected into two categories with a mechanism to display the text, directly affecting the user’s comprehension capabilities.

• Video see-through (VST)

Video see-through is a very reasonable method to deliver AR happenings. In VST, after the camera captures a digital video image of the real world, it is transferred to the graphics processor in real-time. Then the graphics processor assembles the video image feed with computer-generated images (virtual content) and shows it on the main screen. The brightness and contrast of both real-world and virtual components for a seamless experience can be controlled by the developer before its display on the main screen.

However, there are few drawbacks, such as the low resolution of reality as screens don’t match the human eye resolution, a limited field of view (which is possible to increase but is expensive) and eye parallax (eye-offset) due to the camera’s position which is usually at a distance from the viewer’s exact eye location. The VSTs can use smartphones like in Samsung Gear VR, where the phone is used as a display placed a few inches away from users eyes which is different from experiencing AR in handheld smartphones.

• Optical see-through

Optical see-through displays function using optical elements (as half-silvered mirrors) that are half-transmissive and half reflective to combine real-world and virtual elements. This mirror enables an adequate amount of light from the real world to pass through, making it possible to see the surroundings directly. To generate a perception of the combined world, the computer-generated images are launched on the mirror via a display component which is placed overhead or on the side. OSTs hold the capability of demonstrating the images in real resolution, which are free from parallax. These are very convenient to administer since the user can even use them properly after the power fails. Hence, making them an excellent choice for military and medical purposes.

Advantages of Augmented Reality in Display techniques

• The basic advantage of augmented reality is that it can be used flexibly by anyone including mentally and physically disabled individuals.

• Augmented Reality obscures the difference between the virtual and real-world, hence boosting its usage and effectiveness in the application region.

• It possesses a highly indulging nature that results in gaining a large audience in a shorter period.

• The faults and facts of any situation can be easily specified by using the computing power of AR, thus saving a lot of money.

• Augmented Reality can also be used in the health industry. It can help during diagnosis in determining the accuracy digitally.

Augmented Reality Trends 2020

• AR & VR MERGED WITH AI — The high demand for AR and VR has forced the technologies to merge with AI. For an Instagram user, this merger of AR with AI enables the application to provide various filters to the users. Facebook users also benefited from better facial recognition while tagging their friends in photographs.

• INCREASING BENEFITS OF EDUCATIONAL VR — AR can be used across different educational fields, from primary to high-level university education. Educators are increasingly bending towards virtual reality technology. This switch provides a better criterion of education as it can take the students far away from that classroom’s monotonous environments. The visual and comprehending lessons can be provided at lower expenses as well.

• INCREASING USE OF VR AND AR IN THE MILITARY — Augmented Reality trends include military advantages as well. The advancement in technology enables the military officials to recruit a new level of training, as now several battlefield circumstances can be imitated virtually. Additionally, it also provides soldiers with a better understanding of the battlefield around them using technology similar to that being established by mobile game developers.

• IMMERSIVE SPORTS EVENTS — Big and established sporting organisations and event management companies are always searching for ways to enhance their reach to a wider audience. The technology enables sports fans to be at the game, even when they are physically somewhere on the other side of the globe. While stadiums and events hold a specific capacity for the audience, advanced VR technology allows sporting events to be broadcasted across the world in a very short period, with fans getting nearer to the game than they ever could in real life.

• ADOPTION BY THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY — Now, even concerts can be streamed live directly to personal VR headsets to create a unique experience that you can enjoy in your living room. Gaming developers are building more entertaining technologies, which keeps gamers appeased and attracts them to buy new products.

• VR CAVE — The CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) is one of the key advancements in the VR world. A VR CAVE is a small space or cubicle where a minimum of three or more walls works as large display monitors. These extraordinary displays give the consumers a broad field of view — something that most head-mounted displays (HMDs) can’t do.

• INCREASED ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES — With the increase in the use of VR and AR technology and more time spent by consumers on smartphones or computer screens, online businesses have a bigger chance of reaching conceivable customers in a short duration of time. Companies are now able to target their advertisements at the correct angle and the right clientele.

• NEW EXPERIENCES IN THE SHOPPING AND RETAIL WORLD — Keeping in mind the current situation of the world due to Covid-19 and other health reasons, many retail companies are moving ahead in time with AR and VR. They have now arranged systems that provide customers with a new experience in a market that is nowadays overseen by online sales. Customers can try on clothes of their choice without actually trying them physically, from anywhere around the world. The staff-less system is also introduced in many restaurants and apparel shops. Customers can keep track of their orders through their mobile phones and gadgets and change them accordingly.

•MOBILE AR GOES FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH — As there has been ever-increasing access to and affordability of mobile phones to people around the world, augmented reality has started playing a bigger role in the digital industry. AR technology allows users to interact with the public around them just from behind the screen of a smartphone creating the new advanced level of gaming simulations.

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