FAQs of Augmented Reality

What is AR (Augmented Reality)?

Augmented reality places interactive virtual objects within our world via a mobile device of headset. Users are able to view these objects through their screens, take photo and video captures of them or interact with them in other ways.

Through Augmented Reality, marketers can immerse consumers within immersive and memorable experiences in a way that wasn’t possible before. This is bringing great new opportunities to the ways brands engage with their audiences, promote word of mouth and even sell online.

How does Augmented Reality work?

There are many different types of Augmented Reality filters or effects, but all of them involve merging the real and virtual worlds to create a unique kind of experience.

Face filters and lenses

Face filters and lenses are essentially content layers that are overlaid on a user’s face. Think of the classic bunny ears Snapchat effect and you get the idea!

World effects and lenses

In contrast to face filters, which as the name implies focus on the user’s face, world effects and world lenses switch the attention to the environment. They function in a very similar way to face filters, except that they use the rear camera of mobile devices, rather than the front camera.

World effects and lenses place 3D objects in the user’s environment that can be captured in photos and videos.

AR Portals

Portals are like windows into another world. Rather than placing 3D objects in the user’s environment, they transform the entire environment, allowing users to explore it through their mobile screen and to walk around it. As you can imagine, portals are incredibly immersive AR experiences!


AR mini-games are short games that can be played by the user using their face. Users will often engage with the game by facing the front camera and using their head, mouth and eyebrows to complete actions, which will trigger the gameplay.

Image trackers

Image trackers don’t focus either on the user’s face or their environment; instead, they recognise a specific physical image and overlay an augmented experience on top. Users can scan these markers to access additional layers of content around them, which they can view through their mobile device. This is perfect for items like branded products, merchandise, leaflets or posters.

How does Augmented Reality work on mobile?

Augmented Reality is radically shaping the way people interact with social media and brands through their mobile devices. This is because mobile devices today are very well-equipped with the necessary technologies for augmented reality to work, such as a camera and location services.

Beyond advertising, Augmented Reality is also proving an incredibly useful tool for utility purposes, making it extremely convenient to use on the mobile devices we carry with us everywhere. From navigation to translation, the use cases for AR are growing exponentially.

What is the difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?

Simply put, Augmented Reality (AR) requires only a mobile device, allowing users to interact with Augmented Reality content just by looking at their screen.

Virtual Reality (VR), on the other hand, can only be experienced using a specific VR device such as Oculus Rift (a VR headset). This leads to a complete immersion of the user into the universe seen through the headset. For this reason, it is ideal for use cases such as gaming.

So the primary difference is that AR blends the real world and the virtual, while VR offers an entirely virtual/closed off environment.

what is ar
VR goggles

How is Augmented Reality used in businesses?

Augmented Reality is quickly and surely shaping and disrupting the landscape of how businesses advertise and interact with their customers. The opportunities for innovative and groundbreaking use cases are proving to be immense.

Brands are using AR to develop stronger relationships with their customers and stay ahead of their competitors.

At the same time, AR is bringing lots of exciting new use cases across industries that are helping companies increase sales and engagement. One great example is virtual try-ons, which allow users to virtually “try on” products using their phone camera, allowing them to make more informed shopping decisions and reduce returns due to products fitting poorly.

Entertainment and music companies are also using AR filters across social media networks to promote new films and musical artists. By building fun effects that users enjoy capturing and sharing with their friends, this is helping companies leverage word of mouth in a way that was unthinkable before.

These are just two examples of the many industries where AR is taking off. In general, however, the major benefits are proving to be increased engagement and virality, more sales and a delightful and lasting brand experience for users.

What are AR games?

Augmented Reality games are games that integrate AR content within the user’s environment. However, these don’t require a specialised headset (as with Virtual Reality). All users need is their mobile device.

An AR game might be as simple as a 3D object (such as a chess board) placed on a real-world surface (such as a table), or they may be as complicated as an entire world built on top of our existing world.

The best example of this is Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go uses a number of mobile technologies, including the camera, GPS and gyroscope, to generate an Augmented Reality world for users that is based on their real-world environment. It’s essentially like a Google Maps for Pokemon. By walking and looking at their phone screen, users can interact with this virtual world, catching Pokemon, visiting locations known as PokeStops and taking part in quests known as raids.

what is ar

What are AR apps?

AR apps allow users to access and interact with AR content. These might be well-known social media apps (such as Facebook and Snapchat) or they might be custom-built native or web apps designed for specific purposes, such as Ikea’s ‘IKEA Place’ app, which enables users to see what a piece of furniture would look like in their home environment.

What are Augmented Reality glasses?

Augmented Reality glasses (or ‘smart glasses’) take AR further by bringing AR content directly to your eyes, instead of requiring you to look at your device screen. Ultimately AR glasses are just another type of device through which AR content can be viewed, but they are more convenient and ideal for certain use cases.

For example, imagine you’re travelling and you don’t understand the language. AR glasses allow you to use apps such as Google Translate (which has an AR feature that visually translates foreign language text) and literally see this text in English before your very eyes. This brings an extra level of convenience to the travel experience that was previously unthinkable.

what is ar
Google Glass (source)

How do Augmented Reality glasses work?

Augmented Reality glasses essentially combine two sources of visual information: the real world, which you can see through the lenses as you would with regular glasses, and the AR content that is displayed on the lenses themselves. The resulting combination is the AR content that you see.

There are several types of AR headsets: head up displays (HUD), holographic displays and smart glasses.

Head up displays typically include one or two displays embedded in a pair of eyeglasses. Computer generated imagery is displayed on the lenses, allowing the user to view virtual information superimposed on their real-world view.

Holographic display headsets, on the other hand, uses laser technology to generate 3D images that then float in front of the headset wearer’s vision. In the case of Microsoft’s HoloLens, 2D images are projected onto the flat glass, giving the impression of a 3D object.

There are two kinds of smart glasses: optical see-through glasses and video see-through glasses. Optical see-through glasses use graphical overlay through the lenses onto the real world, whereas video see-through glasses use two cameras mounted on the display, which in combination with graphic imagery produce the resulting experience.

How do I get filters on Instagram?

Currently Instagram filters can be used in Instagram Stories. If you try to create a new Story by clicking on the top left camera icon, you will be able to see a series of filter options at the bottom of the screen. If you slide left-wise you will be able to select these.

However, you will see that most of these filters are produced by Instagram. If you would like to access filters created by other brands or users, you will need to follow them first. Once you follow them, their Instagram filters will appear among the rest.

Instagram filters are not currently open to brands, but this summer that is changing, so you can expect a plethora of new filters from brands you follow to appear in Stories very soon!

What is needed for Augmented Reality?

If you’re thinking of producing your own Augmented Reality content, you will need AR developers, access to an agency that produces AR experiences, or an AR development platform.

Currently AR content creation is still a relatively new market, so development tends to be slow and expensive.

However, platforms such as ours are bringing new business models for AR content creation that are faster and cheaper.

What is an example of Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality is having an incredible impact across industries and use cases, from advertising to gaming to utility.

Here are three of the most popular and successful examples of AR to date:

  • Retail: IKEA Place app allows you to see what a piece of furniture would look like in your home
  • Beauty: Kylie Jenner’s AR lipstick filter is a face filter that enables her followers to “try on” different lipstick colours to help them decide which one they’d like to buy.
  • Gaming: Pokemon Go has become the most successful AR game in the market, amassing millions of users worldwide.

For more examples of AR projects see our Showcase page.