Glasses work

How augmented reality glasses work

Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. This seems to apply to some of the latest gadgets, including augmented reality glasses. By putting them on, we can transform reality, add various elements and change the colors of our surroundings, juxtapose images on the real world, etc.

In reality, the magic of augmented reality glasses is nothing more than science and the clever use of our mind’s ability to interpret images and be fooled by visual stimuli. Augmented reality glasses are a combination of a few key components that work together to create the effect of additional elements added to the real world.

In a simple decomposition, these components are:


The display of augmented reality glasses is also known as combiner. This name is a precise description of the component. It combines glass lenses that allow natural light to pass through the eyes with digital LED or OLED displays that send the computer-generated images to the eyes.

Thus, when we wear augmented reality glasses, we see images from a dual source: the real outside world and computer-generated objects.

The camera

The mobile or web AR app cannot see exactly through your eyes. He needs a camera to record the images in the real world. This camera is attached to the AR glasses or, if you are using a smartphone, the phone’s camera is activated to capture images.

Man wearing augmented reality glasses at Smau, international trade fair for information and communication technologies on October 22, 2014 in Milan.

The record

The recording consists of icons (which the wearer cannot see) through which the computerized part of the devices places an AR object in the real world. These icons or markers are the reason why you suddenly see a new sofa or coffee table in your bedroom when you try an augmented reality app for interior design.

Icons or markers use various landmarks in the real-world image to guide them, such as the corner between two walls, the lines of the window, the geometric shape of a rug, etc.

See also: Are AR glasses consumer ready? Are consumers ready for AR glasses?

Computer vision

This is where “the magic” happens, so to speak. A programmed application or software suite must combine the two types of images – that provided by the camera and that generated by recording using markers.

The result of this combination is what you actually see through augmented reality glasses.

Field of vision

One of the important issues to consider when buying AR glasses is the field of view. It makes the difference between a truly immersive experience and watching something through swimming goggles. The usual human field of view is approximately 210 degrees horizontally and 150 degrees vertically.

AR glasses cannot replicate these numbers, firstly due to the physical limitations of placing the lenses in a helmet. Then comes the question of the computing power required to process and display digital objects with reasonably high fidelity and resolution. Right now, a 50-degree field of view is already considered great for augmented reality glasses.

See also: Augmented reality: the next big thing in social media

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