Augmented reality (AR) means that the user is experiencing their own actual reality while certain virtual elements are projected on top of it. A typical use of AR in the consumer space is smartphone applications. However, in mobile applications, the field of view is limited by the size of the mobile device, it occupies the user’s hand, and the experience is much less immersive than with a headset, as you are restricted to a flat screen. These kinds of simple solutions can work great for some use cases, such as games or entertainment (for example, Pokémon Go and Snapchat filters).
Most of today’s augmented reality headsets use optical see-through-based glasses that create holographic images to float in front of your eyes in a narrow, augmented window. The problem is that these images are hazy and ghostlike, because optical see-through devices can only display light, not black or opaque content. AR headsets must also make big compromises on the field of view, resolution, or both.
Currently, AR glasses aren’t anywhere near reaching the goal of “hard AR” – a level of simulation where digital and real objects are completely indistinguishable from each other. However, what AR glasses or goggles lack in visual detail, they often make up for it in portability and by being lightweight. Some AR glasses are also wireless, allowing users to wear them on the go.
A visual example of an augmented reality projection as achieved with an optical-see-through-based AR device.