Unlike virtual reality, which transports VR headset wearers to other worlds, augmented reality brings digital ideas into the physical realm. Interior designers use technology to visualize what a room full of furniture would look like before buying it. Graphic designers use it to create silly filters on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. Game developers use it to create 3D avatars in the user’s home. Application developers use it to create digital tools to measure and map real structures.

Until now, augmented reality projected things into open spaces, or stuck masks or animal ears onto moving faces. But an artist is working to change that. He wants his augmented reality creations to be something people carry into the world between physical and virtual: social media.

Zack Krolla.k.a bald boy, through a series he calls SatARday, which runs every Saturday (hence the name), creates AR sneakers that he gives away for free via Snapchat. There, users can use the filter to “wear” their creations. They stick to your feet as you walk, adapt to shadows and changing light, and reflect anything nearby.

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“Right now, AR filters are a way to build community and make people understand the connection between the physical and digital world,” he says. “There is no ‘buy’ attached to it at the moment, but in the very near future, once enough people are used to the technology and excited about the digital world, I will be selling devices wearables on OpenSea and other NFT markets.”

“Wearables”, a term used in the NFT (non-fungible token) context to describe something that only digital avatars can wear, does not offer any real benefits. You can’t walk around flexing your new NFT sneakers. Sure, you can implement them in some apps to post to your social media profiles, but Kroll’s existing project is, in my opinion, a better glimpse into the future of digital fashion.

We all have our own avatars, whether we created them on Facebook or Reddit, Fortnite or NBA 2K. To some extent, they represent us, and soon we’ll be able to dress them in outfits we’d actually wear, with the goal being to transport them from game to game, app to app, and website to website. However, we are still far from achieving this goal. Right now that seems nearly impossible, as it would require cross-compatibility from all parties involved – meaning Google would have to work with Apple, Fortnite would have to work with NBA 2K and so on. It relies on numerous speculative collaborations from sworn competitors.

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Instead, Kroll’s project emphasizes accessibility. Sure, it’s small, and he has ambitions to make it a profitable business, but it connects sneakerheads to ultra-rare pairs and technologists to a new frontier.

“AR shoes are completely interactive with your real environment,” he says, bridging the gap between physical and virtual. It encourages anyone who downloads the AR filter to film themselves walking, lifting their feet in a distant location, or just standing still. Putting them on is as easy as hovering the camera over your feet. It conforms submitted clips into a weekly recap. Watching Kroll’s compilation videos feels like a glimpse into the future, where tailored images could combine digital and physical designs.

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