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What Are the Different Types of Augmented Reality Markers?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Different types of Augmented Reality (AR) markers are images that can be detected by a camera and used with software as the location for virtual assets placed in a scene. Most are black and white, though colors can be used as long as the contrast between them can be properly recognized by a camera. Simple augmented reality markers can consist of one or more basic shapes made up of black squares against a white background. More elaborate markers can be created using simple images that are still read properly by a camera, and these codes can even take the form of tattoos or cookies.

A camera is used with AR software to detect augmented reality markers as the location for virtual objects. The result is that an image can be viewed, even live, on a screen and digital assets are placed into the scene at the location of the markers. Limitations on the types of augmented reality markers that can be used are based on the software that recognizes them. While they need to remain fairly simple for error correction, they can include a wide range of different images.

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The simplest types of augmented reality markers are black and white images that consist of two-dimensional (2D) barcodes. These graphics use only black and white since the high contrast makes them easy for a camera to pick up. The image usually consists of squares and similar shapes that can easily be detected by the AR system, but are otherwise meaningless to an observer.

More complex augmented reality markers can include color and pictures that are visibly meaningful. Colors are often used carefully in AR to ensure that contrast is still high enough for a camera to pick up the code. A yellow background with black lines over it can work quite well, while red over orange may not be distinct enough. Different shapes can be used to convey meaning, such as augmented reality markers in a game that resemble the object that appears when using them.

Augmented reality markers are essentially just simple graphics, and so any medium that can convey such images can be used for AR. Tattoos, for example, can be made in the shape and form of such an image, and a camera can pick them up for use with AR software. The curved surfaces of the human body can make this difficult, however, so a flat region like the back or chest often works best. Even cookies can be made as augmented reality markers, using different layers of light and dark dough to create a simple shape that is recognized by AR software.

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