How augmented and virtual reality will reshape the food industry

By December 28, 2017News

Augmented Reality:

Augmented reality content can be found on everything from wine bottles to IKEA’s catalog and virtual reality experiences are much more detailed, with rich layers of interactivity from hand controllers to gaze triggers, and a VR film has even won an Oscar.

With Apple and Google both debuting augmented reality platforms (ARKit and ARCore, respectively), Facebook heavily invested in its Oculus headset and Amazon unveiling augmented shopping features, AR and VR is primed to change many parts of our everyday lives. 

Three main areas 

Human resources

Customer experiences

Food products

These have seen the most concentration of AR/VR development so far and will likely continue to push the envelope on what use cases AR & VR have within the industry.

Streamlining Employee Training 

One of the most tangible payoffs of AR/VR technology is using it for consistent and thorough employee training.

Perhaps one day, we’ll even view former mass conference workshops with the same nostalgia as the milk delivery man.

Creating Wonder in the Customer Experience

“Experiential marketing” has fundamentally changed the purpose and construction of food and hospitality driven events.

The success of events such as the Museum of Ice Cream and 29 Rooms have convinced many brands – Grey Goose, Red Bull, Zappos, to name a few – to begin reallocating advertising dollars to experiences and sponsorships. 

Augmented reality and virtual reality play naturally into this shift. Both are vehicles to activate all senses and immerse the consumer within a specific branded experience.

VR experiences in particular have seen growing traction for use during food & beverage events.

Patron tequila used 360 video to showcase the behind-the-scenes making process at its event booths and Innis & Gunn beer used coordinated VR footage to complement the taste of its beer.

Restaurants and bars are also taking notice: Baptise & Bottle in Chicago unveiled a VR tour to pair with physical scotch; SubliMotion in Ibiza lets diners go skydiving in Samsung Gear VR; Space Needle has launched a sky-high VR bar.

Augmenting the physical world with interesting and shareable content has been the focus of AR in experiential marketing.

Remy Martin and Macallan both used holographic visuals for their Microsoft Hololens-specific “Rooted in Excellence” experience and The Macallan gallery experience, respectively.

Given Hololens’ hefty price tag ($3,000 for the base Development Edition), most other brands have stuck with mobile AR – such as Coca Cola’s Christmas magic campaign that gave users the ability to see virtual Santa and hidden scenes across branded bus stops in NYC or Patron’s AR-enabled tasting experience with a mini bartender.

Brick-and-mortar locations are also toying with fun AR elements, with London’s City Social debuting cocktail coasters outfitted with augmented visuals and India-based chain Beer Café using AR to educate drinkers on the origins, ABV, category and taste of each beer available.

Chef pouring sauce on dish in the kitchen

Chef pouring sauce on dish in the kitchen

Adding Interactivity to Products

Food and beverage companies have begun to utilize AR in innovative new ways: Treasury Wine Estates’ line 19 Crimes brings each label’s pictured convict to life in ARNestle used a character from the movie “Rio” for an AR game available on 26 million boxes; Walmart and Kraft teamed up for an AR-backed summer sweepstakes to sell more Kraft products.

One recent, poignant example was when chef & restauranteur David Chang released his limited-edition Momofuku x Nike sneaker via Nike’s AR app SNKRS, which would only allow fans buying access to the shoe when physically located at Fuku’s East Village location.

The potent ability of AR to enrich the knowledge and visuals of physical content goes beyond marketing purposes. Companies can use the technology to educate consumers on nutritional information and product composition or even make healthy but bland-looking foods appear more appealing.

AR also allows physical content, like cookbooks, to merge with digital content for a simultaneous cross-medium experience as HoloYummy showcased with 3D dish renderings of Chef Dominique Crenn’s book Metamorphosis of Taste.