Marker-based, markerless, or location? Different types of Augmented Reality explained

4 min readApr 15, 2020

Augmented Reality is probably one of the most anticipated visual innovations that we’ve seen in modern technologies of the current generation. There is still a lot of time and improvements to introduce AR as a mixed reality. However, with recent advancements in mobile hardware & software, that time isn’t far away when augmented reality will bridge the gap between digital snippets and our existing environment. Woohoo!

The rising market of AR application development is helping many businesses to breakdown and unlock the innovative capabilities of the current generation of this technology. Different industries and enterprises are finding new ways of improvements by providing rich user experiences to gain a competitive edge in the market.

Before creating an AR campaign, there are some key questions to take into consideration: What content are we going to display on users’ live camera view? Where should that content be within the user’s view?

Everything depends on which application of AR we choose, since each needs different types of user interaction.

The evolution of AR technology and its development created different types of augmented reality for various purposes.

Aryel can easily support all the three different types of AR, which are:

  • Marker-based AR, for when we need to know what the user is looking at.
  • Markerless AR, when we need to display 3D augmented reality models, which we can do without a marker.
  • Location-based AR, for the few instances, when we need to provide local information, such as walking directions or road signs.

Marker-based AR

Maker-based AR delivers the information of a specific physical object to render digital visualizations; this AR type isn’t widely used yet, but has diverse uses depending on specific application purposes.

By using a camera, it examines an image, QR Code, or pattern presented upfront and provides information of it on the screen. The rendered recognition of an object gets replaced with a 3D version of it to collect information of corresponding.

The Times uses marker-based AR to make articles “alive”.

By doing that, a user can observe the specific object in a detailed variation from different viewing angles on output hardware.

The marker is the distinctive picture that can be recognized by the device, and it can be anything, as long as it is unique enough. Usually, images with corners and edges suit pretty well, and that’s why we integrate a tool to check if an image is a suitable marker, within Aryel campaign builder. Good examples of suitable markers include any print media, such as logos, packaging, banners or brochures, and even objects, such as a product itself, like a bag, a pair of shoes, or even devices.

Features of marker-based AR:

  • Seamless, convenient, average complexity, and requires less production time.
  • Uses minimum resources and can work on even low-end devices.
  • Minimum production cost, intuitive, and offers real-time user interaction.

Markerless AR

Markerless AR is probably the most used and widely implemented visual experience application of the augmented reality industry. As a markerless AR type, it is the best fit for smartphone devices that provides location access to enrich user navigation experience.

Markerless AR works by using sensors such as digital compasses, thermal positioning sensor, and accelerometer for reading data of any physical place while predicting the focused area where the user is navigating.

The data conducted by markerless augmented reality can be seen on any output display device, while adding additional information of a specific object that can be seen through the capturing hardware.

An AR application can place virtual furniture inside the user’s living room. This allows them to try different combinations of objects, styles, and locations and to decide where exactly to place the virtual object.

Markerless AR offers incredible opportunities in many fields, such as the educational one.

This a perfect example of markerless AR since the user doesn’t need to worry about the location of the virtual objects, and this means that virtual objects seem to “hover” in the air. To improve realism, though, it is possible to let the software to automatically place a 3D AR object onto a flat surface, thanks to surface-recognition technology

Features of markerless AR:

  • More complex AR with endless capabilities.
  • More stable AR user experience.
  • Much preferred method of image recognition as compared to the marker-based.
  • It can move digital objects freely on physical time-space.

Location-based AR

Location-based augmented reality is a sub-form of a markerless AR system.

Unlike the marker-based AR system, location-based AR doesn’t require any physical target or special markers to execute the rendering of AR experience and to identify where to put a virtual object in the user’s environment.

Location-based AR technology uses GPS data and digital compass to define the user’s device location and their position.

Pokémon Go functions with location-based AR technology.

Features of location-based AR:

  • It doesn’t require any physical target to track for interacting with the AR user experience.
  • It provides widespread adaption, greater accessibility, and stable AR experience.

AR as a key to a digital new world

People are already using augmented reality tech daily without even knowing it. Smartphone’s Animoji, camera filters and applications such as Pokémon Go are the best examples of it, and we’ll soon be able to apply and use AR applications as advancements of our daily life activities while interacting with a mixed real world.

Hey there, we are Aryel’s crew, the #1 WebAR platform built to serve marketers!

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Hi, I’m Aryel! My platform helps brands to launch engaging augmented reality marketing campaigns in a snap. No coding. No apps. Easy-peasy! 🖖