AR Could Be the Next Frontier for the Restaurant Industry

These days it seems like every brand is dipping its toes into the world of Augmented Reality, or “AR” for short.

And, for good reason.

You are probably wondering why we are even talking about a technology that seems so disconnected with the restaurant and hospitality industry. Truth is the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating the illusion that virtual objects are part of our physical world as the technology slowly weaves itself into the fabric that is our everyday lives.

Brands that recognize this and develop creative marketing campaigns around AR could really benefit when looking for a boost in exposure or even sales.

Most of us got our first taste of AR through Snapchat or Instagram’s face-scanning filters. Others experienced it through the Pokemon Go craze. Some restaurants were actually able to capitalize on the trend while it was hot, with some places seeing an 82 percent increase in weekly restaurant foot traffic and 63 percent increase in weekly sales if the business was located near a “Pokestop,” according to POS platform Revel systems.

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Last week, we reported on how Snapchat, an app that serves as a great marketing tool for the restaurant industry, launched an AR art exhibit featuring artist Jeff Koons’ digital sculptures in cities around the globe visible through the app’s lens. Although the initiative caused some backlash amongst some New York-based artists raising important regulation questions about public digital spaces (ultimately leading to the “digital vandalization” of the AR Dog Balloon sculpture that was geo-tagged in Central Park), the project is very unique and can serve to inspire future digital campaigns for brands.

The key will be to not commercialize AR to the point where people don’t feel compelled to participate in future initiatives.

As Thrillist reports, AR “...is going to fundamentally change our expectations of what information is available and where.” A great example is how people’s grocery shopping experience could be enhanced thanks to Augmented Reality as prices and promotions could be popping-out in front of particular products. Or just imagine how this technology can help the back-of-house of a restaurant operation become more efficient and accurate when keeping up with orders and recipes.

With top technology companies (like Facebook, Google and Microsoft) in on the race to bring Augmented Reality to the masses, Apple is most likely the best positioned to accomplish this, according to the Thrillist article. Not only has the company released an AR software platform, called ARKit, for developers, but their new iPhone 8 is the first smartphone with a camera capable of Augmented Reality.

Philip Schiller Steve Jobs Theater Sept 2017

“We custom tuned each iPhone for Augmented Reality. The cameras are actually individually calibrated in the factory. And that makes a huge difference in the performance of AR," said Philip Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for Apple Inc., at the company’s announcement event on September 2017 held at the debuting Steve Jobs Theater. "There are new gyroscopes, new accelerometers and ARkit software is tightly tuned to all this hardware to deliver the best experience for motion tracking.”

Will Apple be able to take AR to the next level and start the next technology revolution? How can restaurants and grocery stores take advantage of AR as it becomes more readily accessible in order to enhance customer experience in-stores?

We are stepping into unknown territory, but that makes it all that much more exciting!

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