VR and AR to the fore at SubliMotion in Ibiza, Spain   | Photo Credit: SubliMotion


There’s a rather delicious race featuring technology and food — and the finish line is digital dining. As consumers, we are all for a more immersive meal which converges the best of taste and tech

Dining at SubliMotion is said to be a mind-blowing multi-sensory experience. Touted to be the most expensive restaurant, SubliMotion in Ibiza, Spain, is the brainchild of 2-Michelin-star chef Paco Roncero. A typical meal at SubliMotion is 20 courses long, lasts three hours and costs upwards of $2,000 per person. Diners experience everything from a video intro that diners describe as akin to time-travelling amid 360-degree projections. Sounds like something out of The Jetsons.

SubliMotion, to put it succinctly, is the perfect example of how technology, on so many levels, has pervaded the food industry. In fact, the very vernacular around dining has evolved because of it; at these establishments, you are no longer considered a mere ‘diner’, but a consumer, as you’re immersed in these experiences.

Don’t worry though, you don’t need to break the bank to experience the magical duet of technology and food.

For the attention span

Closer home, you have Loft, a Zee5 Experience, with its host of cafés across multiple Indian cities, and its proud use of gadgetry to pull in diners. They have everything from Xbox and PlayStation consoles to a smoothie cycle (you’ve got to pedal the cycle to power the blender that makes your smoothie) to keep diners engaged. These are ways to engage consumers in more ways than one, points out Ali Zaidi, business head at Loft. He continues, “With the consumer attention span getting leaner by the day, it becomes very important to keep them occupied. One of the most effective ways for us to introduce this novel experience in our cafés was through the infusion of technology and games into our offerings.” Loft also conducts game nights at an outlet level and hosts a gamut of workshops and events.

The smoothie-cycle at Zee5 Loft Experience

While tablets and iPods might not generate much interest, there are restaurant owners who’re upping the ante with interactive tables. Mumbai-based Drinx Exchange’s interactive tables allow diners to tap the table for everything from cricket scores to paying the bill. The screen also gives them offers on drinks available at the bar. At Chennai’s Robot restaurant, robots have replaced waiters, as the droids move around the restaurants speaking to diners and carrying trays of food to respective tables. At Robo Kitchen in Hyderabad, robots simply deliver your food while waiters take your order.

The Beer Café, which has branches across multiple Indian cities, has been using technology for quite some time now to keep their diners engaged. With Brew Miles that diners can rack up on their app, to URBAR which allows them to access a virtual bar, the café has been playing the technology game right. Diners can pay ahead for a set amount of their favourite beverages and use the app to scan the QR code at any Beer Café to get served.

The Beer Café in Saket

The Beer Café in Saket   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

For better choices

Technology has been making its presence felt even at franchised and budget restaurants, with simple things like tablet devices and iPods being used for everything from browsing menus, to taking orders and feedback. Then there’s Dash, a tool that lets diners taste, or rather experience, the food even before they’ve ordered it at a restaurant. Sounds impossible. Monica Narula, who headed food programming at NDTV for several years and the brain behind Dash, says that the idea to create 15-second videos (or ‘fideos’) of dishes being served at restaurants came about when, “people expected me to know everything about every dish just because I was into food programming”. That’s when she along with two other colleagues, Gunjan Mehrish and Noopur Tiwari decided to create “trailers of food offered at restaurants.”

“These videos take them through the complexities of creating a dish, the flavours and textures one can expect, and also throws in trivia related to the food. It works as food porn,” says Monica, “In that sense, Dash is not an app, it’s an appetiser.” In the three years since its launch, Dash is now being used by over 40 brands, including Taj, Marriott, ITC, Mamagoto and Dhaba.An interesting trivia? Dash as an idea impressed Ratan Tata so much that he became a seed investor in the company.

Printer’s got your food
  • In the last few years, 3D printing has really taken off in the food industry. There have been several reports of even NASA 3D printing food (where the ‘D’ stands for ‘dining’) including a pizza. While this might seem like it is straight out of a sci-fi movie, edible 3D printing is becoming more popular with both the food industry and consumers. Most food 3D printers use extrusion technology that engages paste-type ingredients. Some of the most commonly printed foods are chocolate, pancakes and pizzas.

Along similar lines, but making use of Augmented Reality (AR) is Yeppar. Launched in 2016, the company began designing menus using AR for restaurants across the country. Today, with over 200 restaurants on board across India, Lisbon, Shanghai and UAE, Yeppar provides diners a realistic image of what their food will be like. “We’re all about integrating AR in experiential marketing. Our AR menus help people visualise what a dish will look like at a restaurant,” says Ankush Sharma, CEO of Yeppar. “Often, you read about a dish on the menu, but despite the description, what one gets might be very different from what one expects. Since you can’t really return food once ordered, it helps to be able to visualise it before you order. Yeppar provides diners a 3D image of the food, ingredients, nutritional value and also what to pair it with to help them arrive at a decision.”

Ankush believes that one of the biggest challenges faced by retail these days is not the quality of products, but how to best engage customers. “Technology excites people and can offer a lot of gimmicks. Earlier restaurants would have live ghazals; that might be passé now. But given the technology-driven world we live in, it is the perfect way to provide people with a wholesome experience.”

The successfully-tested drones for food pick-up by Zomato

The successfully-tested drones for food pick-up by Zomato   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Then there are the drones. In December last year, Zomato acquired TechEagle, a Lucknow-based drone startup, to help it create a “hub-to-hub delivery network powered by hybrid multi-motor drones”. A couple of weeks ago, they also successfully tested this technology. The drone could cover a distance of five kilometres at a speed of 80 kilometres per hours with a payload of five kilograms. The test was carried out as per DGCA norms. The drone has inbuilt sensors and an onboard computer to sense and avoid hurdles. It is also capable of taking off vertically like a helicopter.

If all goes well, the next time you order food, you’ll have a drone hovering outside your door. Don’t forget to give it a five-star rating!

Source: How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are upgrading the food and dining scene – The Hindu

Recent multisensory dining articles

Six food inspired scents that any foodie needs to try now | British GQ

FRAGRANCES By Sophie Clark12 June 2020 From caviar-laced colognes to edamame eau de toilettes, your cologne collection just got a lot tastier If your fragrance collection is feeling a little bland and…
Artificial IntelligenceInterestingMultisensorySoundVisual

Identifying a melody by studying a musician’s body language | Techxplore

Researchers use skeletal keypoint data to match the movements of musicians with the tempo of their part, allowing listeners to isolate similar-sounding instruments. Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Kim…

How a St Annes scent maker turned smells into big business | Blackpool Gazette

Fred Dale, founder of Dale Air Forty years ago, Dale Air was launched in St Annes dealing in air fresheners. It is now called AromaPrime and has evolved to create…

Cooking Steak & Eggs on Computer CPUs is a multisensory experience | Geek Culture

When it comes to tech, geeks are always chasing the latest CPUs and GPUs, to increase productivity and attain the ultimate gaming experience. But in the process of finding out…

How Sensitivity To External Sensory Stimuli Changes With Your Heart Beat | IBTimes

heartbeat and sensory stimuli Photo: Myriams-Fotos - Pixabay KEY POINTS A new study revealed the link between the beating of the heart and perception sensitivity Scientists found that the heartbeat can…

For Joey Badass, Friendship Smells Like Sour Patch Kids | The Cut

Joey Bada$$ Photo-Illustration: Gregory Pace/Shutterstock Scientific studies confirm that, of all the senses, smell offers the best recall. In Scent Memories, the Cut asks people about the scents they associate with…

Japanese digital scent startup Aromajoin introduces Hackaroma, the world’s first scent-inspired hackathon | News Anyway

Kyoto, Japan: Beginning May 2020, Japanese digital fragrance startup Aromajoin is inviting talented developers and students of all types and in the US and Japan to apply for a challenging,…
Augmented + virtual realityInterestingMultisensory

Virtual Reality and Immersive Environments on Sensory Perception of Chocolate Products: A Preliminary Study | MDPI

Traditional booths where sensory evaluation usually takes place are highly controlled and therefore have limited ecological validity. Since virtual reality (VR) is substantially interactive and engaging, it has the potential…

An MIT Lab Is Building Devices to Hack Your Dreams Using Multisensory Triggers | OneZero

Photos: MIT For the third of our lives that we spend in slumber, our minds take up residence in the unknown regions of the subconscious. We dream, though we don’t…

Architecture for People with Hearing Loss: 6 Design Tips | ArchDaily

via Shutterstock Written by Antonia Piñeiro Contrary to what we might believe, hearing loss is not always congenital, but could sooner or later happen to any of us. According to the…

A Multinational View: Designer Duro Olowu Boldly Mixes Art and Fashion at the MCA | New City

CAIRA MOREIRA-BROWN Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. /Photo: Kendall McCaugherty Nigerian-born British-based designer Duro Olowu brings his work, which combines art, fashion and culture, to the Museum of…
Augmented + virtual realityEntertainmentInterestingTasteVisual

Here’s what a meal at a virtual reality dining experience tastes like | CNBC

What a diner wearing a virtual reality mask sees at a VR dining experience created by Aerobanquets. Mattia Casalegno Virtual reality dining is still a pricey novelty — costing as…

How Rutgers is creating a sensory-inclusive museum experience | BTN LiveBIG

Rutgers University Eli Kaberon, March 13, 2020 There are more than 60,000 works in the collection at the Zimmerli Art Museum on the campus of Rutgers University, including paintings and sculptures from all over…

‘Sensory danger zones’: How sensory pollution impacts animal survival | University of Michigan News

ANN ARBOR—In order to combat the effect of light, noise and chemical pollution on animals, researchers first must understand how animals are impacted. A new paper including research from a…

Luxury Escapes lab gives personalised holiday recommendations based on sensory cues | The Drum

Luxury Escapes lab gives personalised holiday recommendations based on sensory cues   To help Australians get over the holiday blues, Luxury Escapes has launched a lab experience in Melbourne. The experiential…

InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts reveals multi-sensory experiences in seven cities around the world | Hospitality.net

• InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts unveils some of the most authentic ways to experience New York, London, Dubai, Paris, Mexico City, Sydney and Shanghai, inspiring and redefining travel in some…

Study shows how dogs can benefit from scented toys | Phys.org

Credit: Dogs Trust The welfare of dogs in kennels and rehoming centres may be improved if they're able to play with scented toys, according to new research by a team…

What does Putin smell like? | Russia Beyond

Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik, Legion Media Putin’s favorite fragrance has never been officially revealed, but perfume experts think they know. Bergamot, juniper, leather Van Cleef & Arpels Tsar Anna Askarova, who writes…

Foreign Correspondence: Preserving history’s smells and developing ‘smell maps’

Illustration: Simon LetchCREDIT: Everyone at my all-girls high school was a nerd, but by year 8, two camps had emerged: those wise enough to the ways of the world to…

KFC and Crocs teamed up on a pair of fried-chicken Crocs, complete with chicken-scented drumstick charms on top | Business Insider

KFC and Crocs unveiled their shoe collaboration at Fashion Week on Tuesday. Courtesy of KFC KFC and Crocs unveiled fried-chicken clogs at New York Fashion Week on Tuesday. The clogs…

7 odors associated with law enforcement | Law Officer

Pxfuel We’ve all played the word association game. You say “deputy,” I say “sheriff.” When we turn it around, I say, “police,” and you say “officer.” Beyond word association, we…
Augmented + virtual realityInteresting

The Future of Food Is Augmented Reality | OneZero

A digital doughnut available in augmented reality. Image: Fresh Hot Delicious/Instagram Digital food is here, so you may as well get used to it. The recent boom in online food-based media has…

The Scent of Bernie Sanders | The New York Times

A screen grab from the online spoof advertisement for “Bérnié, the People’s Perfume.” President Trump and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, are not the only presidential candidates…

Too Hot, Too Cold? Scientists Search For The Optimal Temperature For Learning | Forbes

PIXABAY / PEXELS Educators are always looking for ways to improve student engagement and learning — whether that’s utilizing new digital tools in the classroom, incorporating multi-sensory educational experiences, or…

Online generator answers “What color is your name?” | Boing Boing

"What Color is Your Name?" is a website that associates your name, or any name, with blocks of colors. The project's creator, Bernadette Sheridan, has grapheme–color synaesthesia, which means her brain perceives…

Bacon-Scented Patch Developed ‘To Help Vegans With Meat Cravings’ | VT

The unusual device, not dissimilar to a nicotine patch, was invented by Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at the University of Oxford. His area of expertise is sensory…

Melania Trump Revelation: FLOTUS’ ‘Secret’ Scent Very ‘Distinct,’ Sends ‘Two-Minute’ Warning To Photographers

First Lady Melania Trump interacts with Ilana Jordan, an Imagine Andrews student, at the youth center on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Sept. 15, 2017. The facility offers various programs such…

Voice of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy reproduced by 3-D printing a vocal tract | CNN

The mummy underwent a CT scan at Leeds General Infirmary as part of the study. (CNN)Scientists have revealed what the voice of a mummified Egyptian priest who lived 3,000 years…

Didn’t Get Goop’s Sold-Out ‘Vagina Candle’? Try These Unique Scents Instead | The Zoe Report

4 The Vinyl Store Rue Des Dames €40 LOLA JAMES HARPER Inspired by a record store frequented by Harper herself (who's also a musician), this candle has notes of papyrus…

Perfume Bottle Designers Reveal What Goes Into Their Creations | Allure

Allure/Bella Geraci Imagine being asked to capture a landscape with so much color, texture, and detail that the picture springs to life on canvas, transporting even the most casual observer…

Random sensory quotes

I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.

— Tom Waits