Probably, a lot of people – including you – just got into augmented reality recently. Might be because of the hype of Pokémon GO in 2016, or the selfie filters on that you often use when updating on Instagram or Snapchat.

However, if we have to trace back its journey, AR was actually first mentioned in the novel The Master Key in 1901. So, talking in that sense, AR has come a fairly long way!

And today, it just seems that there are always new improvements coming up ahead of us, especially for its devices.

Now, we'll unveil the four types of essential AR devices that you can never, ever miss out on. Let's dig in!

1. Head-up display (HUD)

Have you ever wondered how a military fighter's cockpit looks like?

Yup, it's complicated... | Photo: Pinterest

Just looking at those buttons and machines, we know how complex it is to fly a plane. I mean, flying a plane is not the same as driving a car, right?

And to add more, as military fighters, they also need to receive information about what's happening outside.

But, here's the tricky part. How do you make them keep concentrated flying the planes while also staying alert for the things coming up?

That's why the military jets are provided with a head-up display. Basically, with a head-up display, a pilot can see information through a transparent screen in the front.

So, the pilot doesn't have to bother looking up or down for the information. Just look forward, and all the information is presented there.

But, one thing that might make you wonder is, how does it work?

Usually, HUD comes up with 3 main components: a projector unit, a viewing glass (combiner), and a computer (symbol generator).

In the projector unit, there will be a convex lens or concave mirror with a cathode ray tube (CRT) or liquid crystal display (LCD) as its focus. Then, it produces an image, system, data, or any kind of information generated by the computer.

All this information will then be projected into a viewing glass placed in front of the pilot. Like this.

Photo: Wallpaper Flare

Nowadays, HUDs are not only implemented for the airforces. Even the airlines and automotive industry have adapted this invention.

In the airlines, they're commonly called a head-up guidance system (HGS). This system assists the pilots during bad weather.

Although there are only some airlines who have adapted this system, it's proven to be a really, really great help for the pilots.

With the help of HGS, pilots can operate in lower visibility, and of course, enhance the safety of everyone aboard.

How HGS works | YouTube: Leonidas Karanatsis

While for the automotive industry, HUD is also implemented to help navigate drivers through the windshield. Some notable car brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW have utilized this technology for their selected car series.

It was 5 years ago. Nice one! | YouTube: Mercedes-Benz USA

HUD also has its helmet version, known as the helmet-mounted display (HMD). Just like its name, the projection is presented through a screen on the helmet and is mainly used for military airforce pilots. One thing for sure is, it has the same function as the usual HUD.

Helmet-mounted display | Photo: Thales

2. Holographic display

Who's an avid fan of Marvel? If you are, we believe that you must be familiar with this scene in Iron Man or Avengers movies.

J.A.R.V.I.S & Stark. Inseparable | Photo: Inhabitat

Well, actually, this is one of the examples of a holographic display. Any Marvel fans who just figured it out? 🤔

A holographic display uses light diffraction to display 3D objects in the form of a still image or animated sequences in real life. It was originally invented in 1948 by a physicist, Dennis Gabor.

Through Gabor's invention, you can freely see characters or objects from all angles and sides – looking as if they're all alive in front of you.

One of the most advantageous points of a holographic display is the fact that it doesn't require a device for you to enjoy the experiences.

That said, the holographic display can be used to approach any kind of audience. Generally, it's mainly used for shows, fairs, and exhibitions. Remember the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, when it brought back Michael Jackson to life?

The legend's back! | Photo: Billboard

Yes, you guess it right. This legendary moment is presented to you using the holographic display.

And now, the demand for this jaw-dropping technology is growing bigger than ever. A lot of industries, especially the advertisement, media, and retail industry are using holographic displays to support their promotional purposes.

According to one research, by 2025, the global holographic display and services market is expected to grow from $607.6 million in 2020 to $1,837.1 million. Wow, that's almost a 25% rise there!

3. Smart Glasses

It's no doubt that smart glasses have become insanely popular nowadays. Even the statistic can't lie. Quoted to Mordor Intelligence, in 2026, this industry is predicted to gain 7.96 billion, compared to the annual revenue of 3.89 billion in 2020.

So, do smart glasses only look like this?

Photo: VICTOR BASU (Medium)

Our answer is no. Actually, smart glasses can be broken further into two types:

1. Optical see-through

The optical see-through allows you to view contents through optical elements as if it's there in the real world. Examples of optical see-through devices are Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass, Magic Leap One, and much, much more. Actually, the list can go on and on if we keep breaking it down.

Google Glass | Photo: The Verge

And up until now, more and more brands are competing to enhance the use or functionality of the device, especially by including augmented reality on the list.

Not only that it can be used for your daily activities, the optical see-through can also be utilized for various purposes. The medical and sports industries are two of many other industries that have benefited a lot from its existence.

Just in case you don't know, smart glasses have already been used to assist surgeons in operating a patient in 2020. To be exact, it was actually the first-ever AR-assist operation.

The surgeon wearing Microsoft HoloLens | Photo: Microsoft

2. Video see-through

Ever wear this kind of headset before (and pretending yourself as a cyborg 🤖)?

Photo: Norbert Biedrzycki (Medium)

Well, that's basically what a video see-through is. Simply put, video see-through is a head-mounted display (HMD) device.

When you put on that headset, you can view how reality is mixed with computer-generated imagery. And with these headsets, you can create AR experiences right away on the device.

One of the most famous HMDs is Oculus. Take a look at the video below, in case you're still wondering what and how it works.

Video: Oculus (YouTube)

4. Handheld AR

During this era, almost everything can be accessed through your smartphone, not exceptionally augmented reality experiences.

Through handheld AR, you can bring the experiences handily through your small screen anywhere, anytime.

Sooo... do you recall any application similar to this description? Yup, that's right, it's the content-creation AR platform we all love – Assemblr!

Since 2018, we've always aimed to simplify AR experiences through your smartphone. You can create, discover, and share AR experiences at the same time.

What's more exciting is that you can use it for any kind of purpose – be it for business, education, or just-for-fun purposes!

So, among these four devices, which one would you pick as your fighter?

For us, one thing that we're sure about is: there will be no boundaries in terms of their capabilities. With the strong contender, Apple rumoured to be releasing AR headset and contact lenses on 2022, what lays ahead of us will always be more exciting than ever to watch!


In Assemblr, we believe that all people – including you – can create and present your own AR experiences. With an easy-to-use application, Assemblr empowers people to implement AR in any occasion. Interested to unveil more possibilities of AR? Download Assemblr now, available in App Store and Play Store!