Understanding Augmented Reality Technology

Updated: Jun 24

There are a variety of different AR headsets available, whether for businesses, consumers, or niche hobbyists. However, the wide variety of needs with AR headsets means that they all contain different technologies to meet those needs. Whether that means different types of screens, or completely different operating systems, the AR glasses currently on the market offer widely varied specifications for all different needs.

A monocular headset with an LED display.

Monocular vs. Binocular

The first difference between a lot of AR headsets is monocular vs. binocular. A monocular headset only has one screen. Even if a pair of AR glasses has two lenses, if it is monocular, only one of those lenses will have a screen. Monocular AR glasses excel in heads-up display arrangements where only limited information needs to be displayed. On the other hand, binocular AR glasses have two screens, which offer the advantage of depth perception. This means binocular AR glasses can act similarly to a VR headset, in that objects can be perceived in terms of depth and how they exist with respect to the real world.

A binocular headset with transparent lenses.

AR Headset Displays

Another difference between different types of AR glasses is how the displays are done. There are two main types of displays with AR headsets. The most common way that AR headset screens are displayed is with transparent lenses. LED displays contained inside the headset are projected onto the reflective lenses, allowing you to see the display while not obstructing your vision. The drawback of transparent lenses is that, given they are based on projected light, they cannot display black. The other type of AR headset uses a non-transparent screen, essentially a mini monitor right in front of your eyes. This screen can display the color black, with the tradeoff being that the screen may obstruct some of your vision.

Operating Systems

The last major difference between different types of AR tech is the systems that they are based on. There is a fairly even split between Windows and Android-based operating systems. The distinction here and what this means for the headsets is realistically dependent on the individual headset. The Android-based headsets will often use their own variation on the operating system, so compatibility with apps and hardware may vary. Windows-based AR glasses will usually have more compatibility overall. Some Windows-based headsets, such as the dynaEdge AR Smart Glasses include a micro-PC, which can also be plugged into external peripherals for whatever reason.