Now You See Me, Now You Don’t — How AR Works

Welcome to the world of Snapchat filters, Pokemon Go, and soon space suits.

When I was younger I wanted to be many things.

One of those things was a magician

I wanted to pull rabbits out of hats and make things disappear with a simple


Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo

As an aspiring magician, I read magic books 📚 and practiced my hand at mastering the magical arts.

swish & flick

My hope was to become the next Hermione Granger, but I didn’t know that magic didn’t really just work with the flick of a wand or a magic word.

The rabbit didn’t disappear when I put it back in the hat, neither did anything else in any of my magic tricks.

It was all about illusion.

Fast forward several years and I found a new interest:


It’s called:

Augmented Reality

Mixed reality is the merging of two worlds.

The real world + the digital world = the mixed reality

The real world is our reality. The one we live in… right now.

The digital world is made up of several different areas: virtual reality, augmented virtuality, and augmented reality.

The continuum of the hybrid world looks like this:

This article’s focus is on the magic/technology behind augmented reality and some of its applications in the real world.

What’s Augmented reality?

One of my fav AR apps. I still gotta catch them all.

And if you have a phone I’m 90% sure you’ve encountered AR before:

  • using the puppy dog filter (or any other filter) for your Snapchat streaks
  • catching Pikachu in Pokemon Go
  • scanning a QR code
  • and several other AR applications

This technology is really awesome and has a ton of potential to influence many major industries.

Now you see me, now you don’t.

It’s magic…


And I don’t know about you, but I think magic can come in handy in a lot of areas.

Before we can leverage this awesome technology, we have to understand how it works.

How does AR Work?

An application is made up of AR objects attached to a cloud database and uses cloud recognition to place objects in the real world when something called an image target is recognized by the engine.

The application uses image recognition to sense the surroundings and determines where to place a virtual object.

And that’s how AR works at a high level. There are many other components that an AR developer would have to take into consideration when developing an application, such as positioning of objects, image keys, and several others.

AR has a lot of cool applications and cool companies working on it.

Pokemon Go

When Niantic released Pokemon Go in 2016, I remember being addicted for days. At the time, I had no idea what augmented reality was and that Pokemon Go utilized it.


Well guess what?

Snapchat is an augmented reality app! 😎

Yes. This is augmented reality.

To make these filters appear as if they are on your face, Snapchat uses image recognition to generate a map of your face. I will be writing an article all about how Snapchat filters work and are made… so stay tuned 😉


When Google Glass was first announced in 2013 every thought it was going to be HUGE.

However, their augmented reality glasses weren’t all they were hyped up to be and ended up being an AR bust.

Now Google maps is working on more software related AR projects. On Google ARCore developers can develop AR applications.

Google is also working on smaller projects like adding augmented reality to Google Maps 🤔


These look like normal glasses right?


These glasses by North called: “Focals” are augmented reality glasses 🕶️

They are both stylish and practical. However, the applications are limited.

Current capabilities include:

  • Alexa
  • A navigation system
  • Answering texts

The technology isn’t that far yet, but it’s definitely a step 👣 in the right direction!


Microsoft’s Hololens is an augmented reality headset with loads of applications. From visualizing a product in the business world to assisting the US Army in combat training. All really cool applications and those are just a few of them.

What does the future of AR look like?

  • Using augmented reality in astronaut helmets → this is a project I am currently working on
  • AR glasses will be the norm and everyone has them
  • AR in classrooms to help kids with dyslexia 👓
  • Many more… who knows what’s next


  • AR components include: image targets and computer-generated objects in a database.
  • There are tons of cool applications for AR, ranging from business to healthcare.
  • There are also several cool companies in the space including: Microsoft, North, and Snapchat.
  • AR is an exponential technology so we can’t predict the future.

Augmented reality is not magic, but it’s a super cool technology that has the potential to disrupt many industries. Learning how to build awesome technologies like augmented reality is basically like having magic. There is so much you can do with technology. The future of AR is up to us. We’ve still got a long way to go, but I know it’s going to be really amazing when we get there. Oh and I almost forgot… if we mess up some of our AR applications along the way, we have no need to worry as our creating is not really there. One second you see it the next you don’t.

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Thanks for reading! Now go change the world! ❤

18 y/o researching closed-loop systems for earth + space.

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