AR Offers Worlds of Possibilities in Food Industry

AR Offers Worlds of Possibilities in Food Industry

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My augmented reality (AR) journey with a pear started off pretty easy. Scan to experience the augmented reality vortex, reads the QR code on the homepage.

I always wanted to enter a vortex, I thought. So I did, raising my phone to my desk screen.

“Find a flat surface,” my phone asked, and I cleared some space on my desk. A ghostly pear appeared, hovering about half an inch above my desk to the left, precisely where I stashed some fruit for a midday snack. There was even a shadow.

I had entered the vortex. The pear vortex in augmented reality.

AR is going to be big business. From healthcare and safer driving apps to gaming and retail, no one doubts that augmented reality is part of the connected digital future. eMarketer recently reported that in 2021, 93.3 million people used AR at least once a month. That’s nearly a third of the US population, and AR adoption is booming across all age groups.

More than just a way to turn your face into a monkey for Snapchat fun, AR provides makers with a more valuable resource than platinum – The data. And data helps businesses predict what, when, where, how, and most importantly. Why buyers buy what they buy.

“In augmented reality, we will soon be able to place all types of information in the global space – in restaurants, grocery stores and local cafes,” said Damir First, co-founder and COO of AR startup Matterless, to The Food Institute.

“It’s not augmented reality as a technology per se that appeals to just any consumer; these are the experiences and the solutions to their problems built on top of technology which draws them in. For example, it can allow consumers to make more informed decisions about the foods they order.

Grocers, restaurants and retailers will be able to render food in ways once unimaginable, showing size, scale, price per pound, videos and facts about where food comes from. “Imagine seeing a virtual representation of food in front of you, at a realistic scale and resolution,” said Nils Pihl, CEO and founder of Auki Labs, an AR startup focused on social technology. “The joy of exploring the menus will multiply.”

AR visualization and education technology is directed to a grocer near you. In June, Walmart acquired Memomi, an AR technology company, to help enhance the retail experience in its stores, “[furthering] Walmart Health & Wellness’ strategy to improve engagement, health equity and outcomes,” said David Reitnauer, vice president, Specialty Services, Walmart Health and Wellness in a statement earlier this year.

I was definitely engaged. After a brief moment, the words “What can we do with a pear?” appeared on my mobile, appearing in turquoise and orange letters. The pear came back, was divided into six equal pieces, then collapsed on a virtual pear pizza. The process repeated with a red anjou (salad) and a bartlett (quesadilla). Most useful, however, was the maturity check.

The words If it’s soft near the stem, it’s sure to tip over! appeared with an arrow pointing to the tapered top of the pear. Pretty good marketing, and the whole augmented reality pear vortex couldn’t have taken more than 30 seconds.

“It’s exciting to present our consumers with an unexpected experience,” said Jim Morris, marketing communications manager at Pear Bureau Northwest, in a statement.

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