What awaits the restaurant industry in the age of the Metaverse?

Anna Belova, founder and CEO of DEVAR, a Phygital company. https://cafe-madrid.com/ Under 30. Tech Entrepreneur. Expert in AR and Metaverse.

The word metaverse entered our everyday life a year ago and managed to become one of the hottest words of 2021. And then it’s all a blur – Decentraland, The Sandbox, Fortnite, Roblox, Star Atlas and many more virtual environments, metaverse real estate priced at tens of thousands of dollars, fashion shows with virtual avatars, Oculus Quest 2, HoloLens. The rapid development of the metaverse and the growing consumption of immersive technology leaves every entrepreneur wondering, “How can we be integrated into this changing world?” and “Should we do it?”

As the founder and CEO of a technology company that has been working with AR for eight years, I want to discuss augmented reality technology from a business applicability point of view. I have created a series of materials to share deep experiences, inspiring examples and useful insights in the areas where the application of augmented reality is not so obvious at the moment.

In this article I will focus on the restaurant business, where I regularly see excellent AR projects launched. I’d like to expand the list of existing ideas, projects, and opportunities that we can see in three, five, or ten years in the hopes of inspiring bold restaurant owners.

Experiences that can be launched today

There is no need to wait for the mass production of augmented reality glasses to be launched to realize these ideas. Thanks to the capabilities of modern smartphones, you can perform AR wherever there is an internet connection. You can use thousands of apps with AR or create your own projects.

• Interactive AR menu: Modern restaurants can surprise their customers with an AR menu. The menu can be easily translated into any language. Meals on the menu can be viewed life-size in 3D and customers can view them from any angle or even break them down into individual ingredients.

• AR Nutritionist: With this feature, the customers can not only be happy to see their meal before ordering it, but also learn about the ingredients, nutrients and allergy warnings.

• AR assistant: A 3D model of a waiter, chef or restaurant mascot comes to life for your customers to present them the meals on the menu and help them choose something to their taste.

Post-launch experiences of augmented reality glasses for the mass market

Think now about what you can offer your guests tomorrow. This is an incredible time: the infrastructure for future use of AR is being actively built and people are developing a habit of using new immersive technologies. You can now prepare by doing simple functionality with AR, so when the AR glasses come in, you already have a project ready. And most importantly, your guests are already used to it.

• AR partner: Now any historical or fictional character can become your companion. They can tell you a joke, share some wisdom, tell you about the best deals or give you a weather forecast for the weekend.

• AR show: It’s not always possible to see your favorite band play live, but it is possible to make their digital copy and enjoy the show from the comfort of your home. It used to be that only the richest people could afford to invite celebrities into their homes. Now you can too!

Creative opportunities for the restaurant industry

• A cooking session with the chef: Get rid of language barriers, borders and questionable workshops. Cook like a true master of the culinary arts. This feature can be used not only to entertain customers but also to train restaurant employees.

• Culinary Art Museum: Create your own culinary art museum in augmented reality to share exciting stories and legends with your customers, show them 3D replicas of famous meals, interactive display items and much more.

The show must go on

Restaurants are not just about good food. They are also about the atmosphere, the coziness, the status and traditions. They are about feeling new emotions and experiences. They are about the show. That is why it is important to surprise and inspire guests.

You can already use AR technology not only to set the mood, but also to help your customers. Use it for marketing by adding necessary information, such as links to your website and your social media, as well as an interactive entertainment experience to all your materials, from flyers and brochures to branded wipes and cups.

Facing Obstacles in AR

In this article, I’ve only shown a few applications of augmented reality for the restaurant business. Many of these ideas can be applied today. However, I would like to emphasize that many people today do not know the full functionality of augmented reality. Some people are waiting for the launch of a production model of augmented reality glasses to really “take off”, others have received high prices from development studios and still believe that AR is only for big and established brands.

When tomorrow becomes reality

We often tend to forget something important: the future is already here.

This new world does not yet have any laws or regulations that limit your creativity and business activities. There may be little competition now, but I expect it to grow. And if so, it won’t be the strongest that wins. It will be the one who manages to grab the client’s attention and be the first to give him new emotions.

Be inventive. Be smart. Be daring. Let the new technology help you find new ways and solutions.

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