AR uses digital elements that you can view through your camera. It layers images over what you see in reality, like adding a pair of sunglasses to a video of yourself. As you move in the video, the virtual sunglasses move with you.
McDonald first started working with AR in college. A construction company hired him to develop a program that could identify underground pipes before digging. First, they mapped the ground using LiDAR, a technology that uses lasers to scan surfaces. Then the program used the scans to create an AR map of underground pipes and display it on the windshields of digging machines. That way, workers could see where pipes were and avoid tearing up those parts of the ground.
Years later, McDonald began creating 3-D sculptures on his computer. He wanted an easy way to share his art with the world, and realized he could use AR to post interactive sculptures on Snapchat. “People got to play with it, and it was really cool,” he says.
Since then, McDonald has made more than 60 filters. He often works with companies, artists, and musicians. He recently collaborated with rapper Lil Uzi Vert to make a filter called Uzi Diamond. It places a small virtual diamond in the center of a user’s forehead, mimicking the rapper’s style at the time. It got 3 million views in two days!
McDonald’s favorite inspiration for his filters is futuristic technology. “In the future, I think we’re going to be walking around with video game skins as a second option on our clothes,” McDonald says. “Styles won’t be limited by what can be physically manufactured.”