Augmented Reality Applications

The applications of AR has been discussed briefly in the chapter on “What is augmented reality”. In this chapter, we will take a more detailed look at some AR applications as well as the context in which they were used.

Some of the first actual applications motivating the use of AR were industrial, like Boeing’s wire bundle assembly needs. Increasingly complex industrial facilities profoundly affects their planning and operation. The planning and design of buildings were used by CAD software, but many alterations were made on-site. These alterations typically are not changed in the CAD models.

Here, we will take a broad look at what is already trending in the Augmented Reality arena, ranging from its use in advertising, gaming, to interior design and even to the medical field etc. This area is blooming, and already at this stage, pretty mature in some sense. The recent release of Pokemon GO in June 2016 just goes to show how much potential there is in Augmented Reality to create a deeper and more enjoyable experience for users with mobile devices, and just about everyone has a mobile device nowadays.

Augmented reality apps


As early as June 2011, Aurasma started using augmented reality for its free app. The concept is really quite simple. The app lets you add augmented reality layers over any trigger image. So, you can just overlay your smartphone with the Aurasma app over anything, a magazine cover, for instance, and animation can be played on your smartphone screen. This created exciting new possibilities for the advertising and entertainment industries.

(About Aurasma!), (, 2011)

Augmented reality technology had been around for a very long time. In fact, it can find its beginnings in 1992. (Schmalstieg and Höllerer, 2016). It is a flourishing technology, though still at a budding stage. There are many augmented reality apps, but most offer gimmicky rather than solid immersive content. At CES 2012, HP Aurasma announced a new 3D engine, which will allow developers to create 3D animations to slot into augmented reality applications. In one of its demos, they showed a pterodactyl flying around Big Ben. The software knows when the dinosaur is occluded by the clock tower. The app doesn’t need a QR icon as it can recognise real-world shapes and features.

An immersive AR 3D game. Source: (Stuart, 2012)

The Aurasma technology has been used in hundreds of adverts and marketing promotions. Besides Aurasma, there are also other AR technologies such as Layar Vision and Sony’s SmartAR which are beginning to understand the world as presented through our cameras, using pattern recognition to identify objects. AR gaming can get really interesting with this development. Imagine just walking around a door at home and the phone detects that you are passing through a door and a zombie springs an attack on you. If this can be translated to a mixed reality AR glass, then it will be fully immersive. (Stuart, 2012)

In March 10 2014, HP announced 11 leading digital agencies as their preferred partners. So far, HP’s extensive partner network has played a key role in the tremendous growth and success of their autonomy AR business. Digital agencies have been using HP Aurasma to bring real differentiation and impressive business results to their clients. The 11 agencies are as follows:

At South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi), HP Aurasma was the main sponsor of the interactive pocket guide, featuring almost 100 demos of customer use cases and an innovative Showcase focusing on the future of this technology. It is an exciting time for advertising agencies, with the many possibilities technology can offer.

“We are in the business of delivering highly engaging digital experiences for our clients, and HP Aurasma was the perfect platform for us to provide that service to Jaguar,” said Mike Germano, chief executive officer, Carrot-a VICE company. “Of the 219 ads placed in the ‘GQ Live’ issue, our Jaguar HP Aurasma ad ranked among the top five, in terms of views. HP Aurasma is a technology partner we’re happy to be working with to ensure innovative capabilities for and meaningful results to our clients.” 

(, 2014)

Sony SmartAR

Sony’s SmartAR came out in 2011. Just like Aurasma, it employs the markerless approach,  and recognizes objects captured by the camera and tracked at high-speed along with the movement of the camera. Sony has its own 3D proprietary 3D space recognition technology, which has been fostered through the research of its robots such as “AIBO”.  (News Release,, 2011), (Lai R., 2011)

However, Sony did not seem to have made any more headway with this technology and nothing is heard about SmartAR ever since its advent in 2011. They have, however, made their foray into the Augmented Reality wearables market with their SmartEyeGlass, which retails at US$840. The glasses can connect to compatible Android smartphones over Bluetooth, and is controlled via a little “puck”. Sony uses “holographic waveguide technology” in 3mm AR lenses to put information directly in the wearer’s eyeline. (Lawler R., 2015)

Augmented reality in retail – Ikea, Lego and Converse


In 2013, IKEA created an AR catalog app to help customers visualize how their homes will look with IKEA furnishing. They can simply launch the app and use the camera function to capture an image of a room in their homes. They could choose different items and see how the furniture fit into their homes before they purchase the items. Augmented reality for retail helped customers answer crucial questions, reducing roadblocks to purchase, and increasing excitement about their purchase.

In Lego’s Fusion project, you can build a facade for a Lego building and the app can help you to visualize the finished product.

The Lego Fusion app can help you visualize the finished look for your Lego architecture.

Scanning success depended on good lighting and a few retakes. Whatever you make will be part of a mobile game. For example, in the Town Master set, you can build the facade of a town hall next to a sidewalk. Once you scan it into your app, you can place it in a town-building game that looks like a simplified version of Sim City. After scanning a building, check citizens’ needs and assign a function to the building, such as “hospital” or “retail store” and so on and so forth. (Robertson, 2014)

Converse used augmented reality to show customers how their shoes will look on their customers’ feet. Simply select any shoe design and point the phone towards your foot to see how you will look wearing it. (Williams D., 2016)

The possibilities for augmented reality in retail is endless. Its integration will create a new and exciting shopping experience for shoppers.

AR in Games – Pokemon Go

As we have noted, augmented reality is not a totally new technology. It has been evolving through the years, and there are already many apps that make use of AR. The challenge is to create something impactful and unique. As we further explored in the “Experience by Design” post, Pokemon Go is well-designed in the sense that it gave users a wholesome gaming and social experience, thus making it a roaring success since its launch.

Besides its great UX, the reason for its success is because of the Pokemon brand name itself. Originally a nintendo game created in 1996, the original pokemon player travelled through the region of Kanto attempting to capture 150 pokemon creatures and train them to battle the Elite Four and become the winner. In 1999, in Europe, it had expanded to include comics, cartoons and trading cards.

Niantic, a Google subsidiary first created Ingress, a location-based social game in which players compete for control of points at physical landmarks. Niantic gained independence from Google in August 2015. With its 4 years’ experience and the Ingress game engine, together with the Pokemon brand name, what resulted is a super viral game also because of its social aspects. The entire UI is unexplained, but that led to players talking to one another to figure the mechanics of the game. And when a creature spawns, the excitement of telling another player to rush to catch it just adds to the game experience.

Its augmented reality feature amplifies the premise of the game. You are led to believe that you can be a Pokemon trainer in real life. This AR feature has given the game a strong presence on social networks that matches the physical crowds of people who appear around rare pokemons. You can use the AR function of the game to position the creatures to create some funny images with your friends. It makes the game a whole lot of fun. (Hern, 2016)

Throngs of people visit the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on a daily basis since its launch in June 2016 to catch a few rare pokemon creatures.

Dennis Crowley analysed that the AR part of the game made it magical.

“The AR part is the part that makes it seem new and interesting and magical. But there’s a question of how to keep people engaged,” Crowley says. “If you get a bunch of game designers in a room, they’ll all say how hard it is to make something interesting for a prolonged period of time. To make something interesting for years is particularly challenging.” Crowley’s own Foursquare, at the venerable age of seven, has had to radically transform itself over the years to keep users entertained.

Augmented reality apps for museums/exhibitions

The focus of my research is museum/exhibition design and we should do a study of the best AR apps for museums, of course. Indestry, a young yet established startup capitalising on the potential of AR offerings, has developed a few apps for museums.


Feature: An IOS/Android based app that can recognise existing print material, GPS locations, sounds, and objects to start an AR experience.

Benefit: It can create a visual tour guide application that is adaptable, updatable and viewable without extensive hardware.


Augmented reality technology has progressed to a point where you can use it for many things. The key is to find the right fit for your ideas and to develop that.


  • “About Aurasma!”. S.I. Access Aurasma. N.p., 2014. Web. 2014.
  • Stuart, Keith. “CES 2012: Aurasma Reveals New 3D Augmented Reality Engine And Games”. the Guardian. N.p., 2012. Web. 2012.
  • Schmalstieg, D and Tobias Höllerer. Augmented Reality. Print. 2016
  • Lai R. “Sony Smartar Delivers High-Speed Markerless Augmented Reality, Blows Minds (Video)”. Engadget. N.p., 2011. Web. 2011.
  • News Release. “Sony Global – News Releases – Sony Develops “Smartar*1” Integrated Augmented Reality Technology”. N.p., 2011. Web. 2011.
  • Lawler R., “Sony’s $840 Augmented Reality Glasses Are Real, Just Not Pretty”. Engadget. N.p., 2016. Web.  2016.
  • Williams D. “3 Retail Giants Who Used Augmented Reality To Sell – Augment News”. Augment News. N.p., 2016. Web. 2016.
  • Robertson, Adi. “Augmented Reality Lego Is Actually Pretty Cool”. The Verge. N.p., 2014. Web. 2014.
  • Hern, Alex. “Pokémon Go: How The Overnight Sensation Was 20 Years In The Making”. the Guardian. N.p., 2016. Web. 2016.



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