Augmented restaurants

sector - food & drink
type - features
sector - media & technology
Augmented reality restaurants are creating unconventional, interactive dining experiences that bridge the gap between physical and digital environments

Playful plates

The future of food is digital. After social media and the internet have transformed how we engage with what we eat, the restaurant industry is embracing augmented reality (AR) to boost gastronomic experiences further, creating augmented reality restaurants – from interactive menus to virtual interiors.

With a view to entertaining diners and tapping into digital culture, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will accelerate the adoption of such immersive technology. Current forecasts predict that the global reality technology market – which includes AR and VR – could grow to £14.6bn ($18.8bn, €16bn) in 2020 (source: Coresight Research).

Paving the way for playful digital dining experiences, AR is being used to bring animated layers to physical spaces. One restaurant experimenting with the potential for AR is London’s Sketch, which launched an augmented reality app earlier this year allowing visitors to transform their restaurant view with playful 3D avatars and animations created by artist David Shrigley.

London-based studio Hato has worked with Sketch since 2018 to brand its digital presence. It saw the app as an opportunity to create new dialogues between the restaurant and its customers. ‘AR became an obvious choice for the project, blurring the parameters of real and virtual in what is the most Instagrammed restaurant room in the world,’ explains Ken Kirton, co-founder and creative director of Hato.

Published by:

26 October 2020

Author: Alex Hawkins

Image: Sketch app by Hato, London


SHCR Documentary

Internet interiors

In the age of Media Kitchens, AR offers a means for restaurants and food brands to invite customers to experience their worlds digitally via lenses and filters. Indeed, home-bound restaurant patrons have embraced delivery in unprecedented numbers in recent months and by 2023, Technavio forecasts the market for on-demand food services is poised to grow at a CAGR of 15% to a value of £80bn ($104bn, €88bn).

But technology’s ability to extend and enhance the restaurant experience remotely also boasts the added benefit of engaging those who are wary of returning to public spaces. Food delivery platforms are now creating digital touchpoints for customers to experiment with. DoorDash, for example, recently sponsored a set of Snapchat filters inviting users to immerse themselves in virtual versions of popular restaurant chains.

When the filter is activated, Snapchat users can either take a selfie of themselves superimposed in a restaurant interior, or use their phone’s rear-facing camera to explore these virtual spaces. With the aim of making consumers feel more connected to their favourite eateries, the AR filters build on DoorDash’s Lunchroom programme, which was first launched in April when the platform created video chat backgrounds and curated Spotify playlists for its restaurant partners.

Immaterial eats

As consumers become more comfortable interacting and engaging with food online, creatives are designing food filters and digital restaurants that exist solely on social media. These concepts create digital alternatives to traditional eating and drinking occasions, but they also more broadly push the boundaries of how foodstuffs can be consumed.

‘Digital food reflects the ever-changing way we exist online and how we share what we consume ’
Jess Herrington, artist and designer

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