The fusion of virtual reality and gastronomy
Source: Sublimotion Restaurant (Instagram)
In recent years we have experienced many changes thanks to technological advances. Technology has changed almost everything, from the way we interact, consume news and see the world, to the way we work and function on a daily basis. The internet and Wi-Fi connectivity, applications and social networks, online shops, virtual assistants, digital currencies and virtual worlds such as Virtual Reality (VR) have appeared thanks to technologies.
Today we can say that VR has ceased to be the tool of the future to become the tool of today. A large number of industries already use it in their strategies, since it is a tool that allows them to get up close and personal with certain products, increasing the chances of purchase. Examples are the real estate sector, which uses VR to conduct virtual tours of homes; or the tourism sector, specifically travel agencies, which use VR to make tours and show destinations to their clients.
To such a boom, the restaurant and gastronomy industry has not been left behind, since any opportunity for improvement is well welcomed. We know that there is an audience eager for new experiences and technology helps to satisfy it. The use of virtual models and simulators makes it possible to transform the act of eating into a sensory experience that transcends the tangible. With VR, the clients live a reality that they cannot touch, but that influences their sensations, a fact that opens a new commercial window that does not go unnoticed by entrepreneurs.
When immersing yourself in a virtual world, it is possible to interact with images and sounds, but for many, it is not enough. For this reason, attempts are being made to include new effects such as taste and smell. Imagine being able to savor a dish from a virtual world. A team at the University of Maine has developed technology that uses electrodes in cutlery, such as metal chopsticks, to replicate the sensations of sour, sweet, salty or bitter tastes in the mouth. Something similar has been created by Homei Miyashita at Meiji University (Japan). It consists of a lickable screen that simulates flavors through electrolytes.
On the other hand, some professionals from the gastronomic sector, such as Paco Roncero, have wanted to go further and have created important innovative projects that involve the use of VR in very exclusive gastronomic events. An example of this is Sublimotion, the most technological restaurant in the world. In it, we can live a leap into the future with the show that they have prepared for us. The table, for only 12 diners, is surrounded by four digital walls that vary in design, and through glasses you fully immerse in virtual reality, transporting yourself to other dimensions without even getting up from your chair.
And lastly, examples of more basic but no less impressive initiatives are that of Kentucky Fried Chicken, which launched a virtual tutorial to teach its newly hired employees how to properly fry their iconic chicken; or that of Nescafé, which allied itself with Google's VR to take consumers to Brazilian coffee plantations without them having to leave the comfort of their homes. Little by little, more initiatives of this type are emerging, opening up new opportunities for all sectors, and we are sure of one thing: the fusion between Virtual Reality and gastronomy has only just begun.