AR Talk | Luke Pilkington

Best thing about the AR community? We look at each other as partners, not competition. 👥 Creators are always eager to share their knowledge and experience, and we’re happy to support that. 🥰 So, as one could easily predict, the AR Talk format quickly became our favourite space to connect with talented designers, who take this opportunity to spill all of their secrets. 👀

Let us introduce you to Luke Pilkington – a traveller known for discovering not only the real world, but also exploring everything that technology has to offer. 🌐 This time he took us with him! So join us on this inspirational journey to find out what Luke’s take on AI and the future of XR. Trust us – it’s quite a ride! 🔥

In one of your posts it was mentioned that you discovered AR through Pokémon GO. Could you tell us more about it? How did your story with digital design start?

Like many others, my first introduction to Augmented Reality occurred in the early days of Pokemon Go. As a professional in the digital design field, I recognised there was some potential in AR as an innovative medium that could offer a new dimension to user experiences. It was like someone had taken the creative canvas and suddenly gave it an extra level. This presented an opportunity for learning, growth and differentiation in a rapidly evolving field.

My journey into digital design started at a relatively young age and I specifically remember being one of the few designers who was particularly proficient in Photoshop, earning the title of ‘Photoshop Wizard’. However, with the increased accessibility of such tools over the years, these hard skills that set me apart a decade ago have become a lot more commonplace. This realisation prompted me to explore new avenues where I could distinguish myself. It was at this juncture that I discovered AR development was a real option for me – a unique opportunity to showcase my creativity and technical expertise again.

Just as I used to pour over graphic design artwork and marketing strategies, I found myself staying up late, fuelled by coffee and curiosity, learning all I could about this emerging field. Each tutorial, each new project, was an opportunity to push the boundaries of what I thought was possible, to create unique, design-led experiences that could surprise users.

I experimented with Meta Spark AR, Unity and Effect House, learned how to create basic AR effects, and gradually worked my way up to more complex projects. Today, I am grateful for that journey, and I look forward to continuing to push the boundaries of what’s possible with Extended Reality (XR).

Congratulations on getting to the top 1% of Creators on TikTok! Which of the effects you made got the most impressions? What inspired you to design them?

Thank you! Reaching the top 1% of effect Creators on TikTok has indeed been a remarkable journey. It’s clear to me that TikTok is wanting to eventually take some lead in this space. The team at Effect House has made a bunch of updates to the platform to make AR filters a larger part of the TikTok experience. This means expanded reach for Creators and tools to help leverage your skills to get really creative with your experiences.

One of my effects that particularly resonated with the TikTok community was the Which Drink Am I? randomizer filter. I created it in response to the trending audio What’s your drink of choice? sound bite. Unexpectedly, the filter tapped into a different trending theme, where users share an array of random filters to craft their own virtual night out scenarios. The filter’s popularity soared when a number of influential TikTok personalities incorporated it into their top-performing videos, catapulting its visibility and use across the platform.

Which Drink Am I
by lukepilky

What’s cool about this is that people found their own unique ways to use my filter beyond it’s intended purpose and it gained popularity organically on its own accord. I don’t know of any other place on social media where that kind of engagement exists on that scale and I think that what TikTok is doing in this space has the potential to be groundbreaking for Creators.

You often share tips and information about AI. What is your take on Artificial Intelligence? Do you use it in your own work?

AI has already collectively surprised us all with how it is reshaping the future of social content, creativity and digital design. While AR and AI are often seen as separate technologies, I see them as highly complementary tools that can provide us with a customisable reality, like nothing we have ever seen before.

Imagine walking down the street, and your AR glasses overlay AI-generated artworks onto the buildings around you, creating a dynamic and ever-changing urban gallery. Or overlaying your entire living room with the style of an enchanted cave. Your walls turn to stone, your sofa becomes a tree log and all of your house plants become wild flowers. Anything you can imagine would be a possible reality with relatively zero barrier to entry. These scenarios are closer to becoming a reality than many might yet realise.

In a current project, I harnessed tools like Skybox Blockade Labs @blockadelabs to use generative AI to create immersive 360-degree panoramic images of various locations. A case in point is my Hogwarts Common Room filter, which transports you into the common room of your preferred house from the Harry Potter series. The elements used in this filter facilitated a level of immersion previously unattainable. This innovative use of AI not only streamlines the creation process, but also enhances the overall user experience, making it a truly transformative tool in the realm of AR.

While we’re aware of the effect that received the most impressions from users, we’re curious: which effect resonated the most with you personally? What was the most fun for you to create?

Often it’s the simplest filters that garner the most popularity, and this largely boils down to accessibility and the intention of the platform. For instance, Instagram is fundamentally a photography platform. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the filters accruing the highest impressions are those that affect your facial features for Story or Feed posts. These could be as straightforward as a filter that introduces a blur or grain effect to photos. While such effects are understandably popular, it’s important to note that filters offer a much wider scope of experiences, like information, storytelling and gaming.

One effect that resonates most with me is my Aussie Outback filter I developed in collaboration with @ajiechx. The filter allows the user to light a campfire and cook a steak on a BBQ in the outback. This particular filter strikes an ideal balance between showcasing some storytelling, interactivity and creativity. I learned a bit more about how effect logic can be created in the Visual Code, and to me the filter embodies the spirit of collaboration and innovation that I believe is at the heart of our AR community.

Aussie Outback
by lukepilky

What do you like the most about working with Augmented Reality?

Definitely the community. Lenslist has done an amazing job at collectively leveraging every one of us and building an environment where creators can ask questions, provide solutions and inspire one another to learn more and build in the XR space. In fact you’ve helped a few of us Melburnians find one another and we are discussing a meetup thanks to being able to discover one another via the Meta Spark, Lenslist and AR community pages.

Another one of the aspects I find most exciting about AR is its continual evolution and the promise of future advancements. Emerging technologies, especially the new AR and VR headsets hitting the market from Meta and now Apple with the Apple Vision, are setting the standard in this field, making it even more accessible and relevant.

It’s also exciting to think about how XR will impact education or shopping. As a visual person, I think having information conceptualised visually would make me want to understand more about the products. We will look back in 5 years time and wonder how we ever bought furniture or clothes online without trying them on digitally first.

We can find a lot of travels on your Social Media – does experiencing new places and cultures work as an inspiration for you?

Yes, I do cherish travelling to different parts of the world. I’ve explored 22 countries in total and I think it’s one of the most pivotal and important experiences a person should have, especially in your mid 20’s. It’s important to leave the nest and try things your own way. Get things wrong, learn from your experiences and see what you make of it. When I’m away, that’s mostly a time for me to step away from technology and design while I build on ideas. Once I return home my mind is usually refreshed and I get right back into creating.

At the moment, I’m on a journey through Japan and South Korea, and I’ve noticed some distinct differences in their approach to advertising design. It’s quite entertaining to see how they use cute characters and mascots to personify their brands. In fact, it struck me that there’s a whole range of unique characters in these brands that could really benefit from the use of Extended Reality to broaden their storytelling. The lights and signs in Tokyo are already seeming to leap out from the walls – why not take it one step further and make them truly augmented? Perhaps I’ll incorporate elements of Japanese culture into my next AR filter.

Who knows what the future holds!

What do you think is the next step in your journey? Are there any specific plans or projects you’re considering?

Looking at the future, I think Extended Reality (XR) will continue to become an integral part of our everyday lives whether it be in advertising, social media, education or in the workplace.

The key driving factor at this point is in the hardware, which still has a way to go. Companies like Meta and Apple are already pioneering the development of this technology, setting the new standard for both software and hardware in the field.

I’m currently on my way to acquiring advanced 3D and coding skills as well as a Meta Spark Certification. The next step is likely to produce more augmented experiences in digital marketing for brands and products. There’s a lot of opportunities for brands to still realise how XR will fit in with their marketing model, so I think it’s up to us as creators to provide a level of education on where the value is and how it will help position the products.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I look forward to sharing more of my work with you in the future.


The pleasure is all ours! 🥰

With each of our AR Talks we are amazed how much we get to know about Creators, and we always learn something new. 🤯 Huge thanks go to Luke for taking the time to share his experience with the whole community – we can’t wait to see much more of your work in the future! 💓Make sure to keep us updated. 😉