Bringing the Virtual to Reality: A Guide to Augmented Reality (AR) and Its Practical Uses.


Augmented reality (AR) enhances the realization of the real world by overlaying digital elements, such as visuals and sounds, to enrich user experiences. It is widely used in various industries, including gaming, education, retail, navigation, architecture, healthcare, entertainment, and more. AR allows users to see virtual objects and information in their real surroundings using devices like smartphones or specialized glasses. Companies leverage AR for product promotion, marketing campaigns, data gathering, and improving customer experiences. Unlike virtual reality (VR), which creates a fully immersive virtual environment, AR supplements the real world with additional elements. The applications of AR continue to expand as technology advances, offering unique experiences and transforming various industries.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented reality (AR) involves enhancing the physical world by integrating digital visual elements, sound, and other sensory stimuli through technological means, creating an enriched rendition of reality.

It has gained popularity, especially among companies involved in mobile computing and business applications.

In the era of data collection and analysis, augmented reality aims to emphasize distinctive aspects of the real world, enhance comprehension of those aspects, and extract valuable insights that can be applied to practical applications. This wealth of data enables companies to make informed decisions and gain valuable understanding of consumer spending habits, among other benefits.

Understanding augmented reality (AR)

That’s what augmented reality (AR) is all about. It’s like adding a cool layer of digital stuff to the real world around you. With AR, you use special technology, like your smartphone or special glasses, to see things that aren’t actually there.

These digital things can be images, videos, or even sounds. They appear right in front of you, blending with what you see in the real world.

For example, let’s;s say you’re walking down the street and you point your phone at a building.

With AR, you can see information about that building floating right on your phone screens, like its history or interesting facts.

Or maybe you can play a game where virtual creatures pop up in your neighborhood, and you have to catch them.

AR can also be used by companies to show you how their products would look in your home before you even buy them.

You can use AR to try on virtual clothes, see how the furniture fits in your room, or even test out makeup without actually applying it.

Therefore, consider augmented reality as a means to incorporate the virtual into your physical surroundings.

It’s like having a superpower that gives you access to information and experiences that the general public is denied.

Examples of augmented reality

Here are some examples of how augmented reality (AR) is being used in various fields:

  1. Gaming: One popular example is Pokemon Go, where virtual Pokemon characters are overlaid onto the real world using AR technology. Players can see and catch Pokemon creatures in their surroundings through their smartphone screens.
  2. Education: AR is being used to enhance learning experiences. For instance, there are AR apps that can bring textbooks to life by displaying interactive 3D models, animations, and additional information when the camera of a device is pointed at specific pages.
  3. Retail and e-commerce: Many retail brands are incorporating AR into their apps to allow customers to virtually try on products like clothes, accessories, and makeup. This helps customers see how the items would be viewed on them without actually physically trying them on.
  4. Navigation and wayfinding: AR can assist in navigation by overlaying directions and information onto the real-world view. Apps like Google Maps use AR to display arrows and markers directly on the streets, making it easier for users to navigate their surroundings.
  5. Architecture and interior design: AR enables architects and interior designers to visualize and present their designs more effectively. By using AR, they can overlay 3D models of buildings, furniture, or decor onto real spaces, allowing clients to see how the finished project would look.
  6. Healthcare: Surgeons and medical professionals can use AR during procedures to overlay important patient data, such as X-ray images or vital signs, onto their field of view. This helps improve accuracy and precision during surgeries.
  7. Entertainment and live events: AR is used to enhance live performances and events. For example, during sports broadcasts, virtual graphics and statistics can be overlaid onto the field or court, providing additional information to viewers.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)

As augmented reality (AR) technology develops, many exciting new uses will likely emerge. Different from one another, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) provide two very different kinds of technological experiences.

AR involves overlaying virtual elements onto the real world, enhancing the user’s perception by adding digital information like visuals, sounds, or other sensory stimuli to their immediate environment. With AR, users can interact with both the real and virtual worlds simultaneously.

For instance, using an AR app, you can see virtual objects or information overlaid on your smartphone screen while remaining aware of and engaging with your surroundings. On the other hand, VR aims to create a fully immersive digital environment that replicates reality.

It employs headsets or similar devices to block out the real world, replacing it with a virtual realm. Users wearing VR headsets become fully immersed in a computer-generated environment and can interact with it using specialized controllers or sensors.

Virtual reality (VR) creates a powerful sensation of presence, making it feel as though the user is actually in the virtual environment.

Differences in immersion and how they relate to the actual world are where AR and VR really shine as unique technologies.

While virtual reality (VR) creates an immersive virtual environment to replace the actual world, augmented reality (AR) enriches the real world by superimposing virtual components onto it.

Both technologies possess unique applications and offer diverse experiences to users.

What is AR used for?

Augmented reality (AR) has a wide range of applications across various industries. Here are some common uses of AR:

  1. Gaming and entertainment: AR is extensively used in gaming to create interactive and immersive experiences. It allows users to play games that blend virtual elements with the real world, enhancing the gaming experience. For example, popular AR games like Pokemon involve users searching for virtual Pokemon characters in real-world locations.
  2. Retail and e-commerce: AR is used in retail to enhance the shopping experience. It allows customers to virtually try on clothes, accessories, or makeup before making a purchase. By overlaying virtual products onto the real world, AR helps users visualize how items will look or fit, leading to more informed buying decisions.
  3. Education and training: AR has immense potential in education and training. It enables interactive and engaging learning experiences by overlaying digital content onto textbooks, worksheets, or physical objects. AR can provide additional information, 3D models, or interactive simulations, making learning more interactive and memorable.
  4. Architecture and interior design: AR is used in architecture and interior design to visualize and present designs. It allows architects and designers to overlay virtual models of buildings, furniture, or other design elements onto real-world spaces. This enables clients to experience and visualize the final outcome before construction or renovation begins.
  5. Healthcare: AR has applications in healthcare for medical training, surgery planning, and patient education. Surgeons can use AR to visualize patient anatomy in real-time during procedures, providing guidance and improving surgical accuracy. AR can also display medical information, such as patient records or vital signs, directly in the healthcare professional’s field of view.
  6. Manufacturing and maintenance: AR is utilized in manufacturing for assembly line guidance, quality control, and maintenance procedures. It can provide real-time instructions or visual overlays to assist workers in complex assembly tasks. AR can also overlay maintenance information onto machinery, guiding technicians through repair processes.
  7. Tourism and exploration: AR enhances the tourism experience by providing virtual guides, historical information, or interactive maps. Users can explore landmarks or tourist destinations with virtual overlays that offer additional context or interactive elements, enriching their understanding and enjoyment.

These are just a few examples, and the applications of AR are continuously expanding. As technology advances, AR is expected to play a more significant role in various industries, transforming the way we learn, shop, work, and interact with the world around us.


In conclusion, augmented reality (AR) is a technology that improves the real world by overlaying digital elements, such as visuals and sounds. It has found applications in various fields, including gaming, education, retail, healthcare, architecture, and more. AR allows for interactive and immersive experiences, enabling users to see virtual objects and information in their real surroundings.

Companies can leverage AR for marketing, data gathering, and improving customer experiences. With ongoing technological advancements, the potential for AR is expanding, and we can expect to see even more innovative uses in the future. AR has the power to transform the way we learn, shop, work, and interact with the world around us, making it an exciting and promising technology.

Key takeaways

  • To improve user experiences, augmented reality (AR) superimposes digitally created sensory data onto the physical world.
  • Companies, including retailers, can leverage augmented reality for product promotion, innovative marketing campaigns, and gathering distinctive user data.
  • Unlike virtual reality, which constructs a virtual environment, augmented reality supplements the real world with additional elements.
View Article Sources
  1. Usability of augmented reality – Department of education
  2. Augmented reality in medical education – National library of medicine
  3. Augmented reality sandbox – United state geological survey