Agribusiness VR - How virtual and augmented reality is transforming the food industry

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Alejandro Crespo Martínez
@alejandrocrespomartínez

Summary

  • Agri-food VR: virtual and augmented reality facilitates employee training
  • Agri-food VR: virtual and augmented reality improves customer experience
  • Agri-food VR: virtual and augmented reality can add digital interactivity to products

As 2017 draws to a close, it is clear that virtual reality and augmented reality have taken all industries by storm. Tourism, ready-to-wear, interior decoration, automobile… VR and AR are gradually transforming all sectors. Even the field of art is undergoing a transformation thanks to these formidable technologies.



One of the industries in which VR and AR is least expected is the food industry. This industry aims to cover our most basic need, that of food. However, even if Japanese researchers have succeeded in simulating the sensation of taste in virtual reality, it is very unlikely that humans will ever be able to eat virtual foods. And yet, the food industry is also undergoing a revolution thanks to immersive technologies.

More specifically, there are three main ways in which virtual reality and augmented reality are transforming the industry: human resources, customer experience, and the products themselves. Here's everything you need to know about the VR food industry.

Agri-food VR: virtual and augmented reality facilitates employee training

So far, the company training was very complex and expensive to develop. Particularly in the food industry. In addition, the quality of this training can vary greatly depending on the teams, stores or geographic regions. Often times, human resource managers have to choose between inexpensive but inefficient training or very expensive but very effective training. For example, massive group workshops are inexpensive, but their effectiveness is limited. On the contrary, small group training in real conditions is very effective but very complex to set up.



However, virtual reality and augmented reality make it possible to circumvent these limits. Thanks to VR, it is possible to ccreate an extremely detailed virtual world in which employees can realistically interact with their real work environment. Thus, employees can train in complete safety, while learning effectively to perform the physical or mental tasks for which they are responsible. From managing the Christmas rush at Walmart to preparing noodles at Honeygrow to mastering how to make an espresso, VR can turn apprentices into masters.

Augmented reality makes it possible to train employees in real time by disseminating information and instructions in their field of vision while they are working. Beyond training, augmented reality can also help servers estimate the size of an order in restaurants, for example. Likewise, augmented reality makes it possible to practice maintenance and repair at a distance.

These new possibilities offered by virtual reality and augmented reality improve the effectiveness of training, while allowing companies to offer each employee personalized training which corresponds to his way of learning and his level. The lower the price of VR and AR headsets, the more companies can be expected to adopt this training method.

Agri-food VR: virtual and augmented reality improves customer experience

Experiential marketing is hugely popular with millennials. These last are delighted to be able to share their participation has such experiences on different social networks. Successful events like the Museum of Ice Cream or the 29 Rooms have pushed big brands like Gray Goose, Red Bull, Zappos and many others to invest in this type of experience.



In this context, virtual reality and augmented reality make it possible to immerse the user in a virtual advertising experience. This type of content is already widely used in the food industry. A good example is Boursin Sensorium which allows you to associate movements with the smell and taste of Boursin cheese. Likewise, the Tequila Patron brand used a 360-degree video to reveal how its alcohol is produced. Innis & Gunn has used VR content to add a contemplative dimension to their beer tastings. There are no longer any examples of VR marketing deployed in the food industry.

La augmented reality can also promote products. Both Remy Martin and Macallan have launched augmented reality experiences compatible with the Microsoft HoloLens. However, faced with the high price of the HoloLens, most other brands prefer to stick to augmented reality for smartphones. For example, Coca Cola's Christmas Magic Campaign offers users the opportunity to see Santa Claus by filming billboards at various bus stops in New York City. In shops and restaurants, brands are also experimenting with the possibilities offered by augmented reality. The Indian chain Beer Café uses augmented reality in particular to inform customers about the origin and taste of its various beers.

In the near future, we can expect to discover new uses even more impressive virtual and augmented reality for agri-food marketing. Brands have understood that visual pleasure can multiply taste sensations, and intend to use immersive technologies to distinguish themselves from the competition and encourage consumers to buy.


Agri-food VR: virtual and augmented reality can add digital interactivity to products

In 2017, digital engagement has become essential to dominate the markets, in all industries. Attracting consumers to the web or networks with quality, interesting or entertaining content is the keystone of modern marketing. Even if the products and their real points of sale remain static, the content must extend beyond the physical world in order to attract more buyers and retain customers by making an impact.


In this context, augmented reality can allow add a dimension of interactivity digital to different products. For example, it is possible to add additional information on the product, visual stimuli or even interactive elements to the products to combine the virtual world with the real world in a personalized and intuitive way. In the food industry, this technology is mainly used for marketing. For example, Treasury Wine Estates allows consumers to scan the labels of its bottles to watch animations on the screen of their smartphone. Nestlé, meanwhile, has created an augmented reality game inspired by the animated film about Nesquik cereal boxes, in partnership with Dassault Systèmes.

Likewise, Walmar and Kraft have teamed up to create an augmented reality mobile application. This application allows users to receive various and varied recipes and rewards. Another example is that of chef David Chang who launched his Moofuku x Nike sneaker exclusively on Nike's SNKRS augmented reality app. To buy this shoe, fans had to be in the East Village of Fuku. Augmented reality therefore makes it possible to create a link with the consumer, to add interest to packaging, and possibly to give the brand a modern and innovative image.

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However, the augmented reality interest is not limited to marketing. Companies can also use this technology to inform consumers on nutritional information and product composition. Consumers can scan the packaging of a food product with their smartphones to discover this detailed information. Likewise, Japanese professor Dr. Katsunori Okajima has found a way to make food more appealing through augmented reality.

By viewing a food through the camera of his smartphone, a consumer can see another more appetizing food. This use can be very helpful in making healthy foods more flavorful. Finally, HoloYummy has created an interactive recipe book to display a dish in 3D to decide whether or not to try a recipe. It is very likely that virtual reality and augmented reality will spread more and more in the food industry. Big brands are already using this technology, but small and medium-sized businesses will have access to it very soon in turn as costs decrease.



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