The world of technology has advanced greatly in the past decade, with one of the biggest developments being both AR or augmented reality.
The use of ARy is becoming more commonplace in many different industries throughout the world, and for good reason, because it provides users with an immersive and interactive experience.
One of the industries that has begun adopting the use of augmented reality is the hospitality industry, and here we are talking specifically about restaurants.
Restaurants have started using augmented reality to their benefit, especially as far as creating highly interactive 3D menus on smartphones and tablets is concerned. Using AR in restaurants can take various forms, all of which can be beneficial for business owners and patrons alike.
Today, we want to take a closer look at what exactly augmented reality is and how it is being used, specifically in restaurants to create 3D menus.
However, making three-dimensional menus is not the only function of AR in restaurants, because there are many other purposes that augmented reality can serve in the restaurant industry. Let’s figure out how to create a fun, visually appealing, and interactive 3D menu for your restaurant.
What Is a 3D Menu?
Before we can discuss what a 3D menu is, you first need to be familiar with AR or augmented reality.
Augmented reality is a special technology that uses supercomputer-generated images which are imposed on a real-life setting, onto a user’s view of the real world. This is done with the use of a device such as a cell phone, tablet, or camera, so long as it has a camera and a display.
The user must point their device, the camera, at an object (which in this case is a restaurant menu). The specialized software on the device then analyzes the stream of video.
At this point, your device uses this data to create visuals on your screen, which in most cases can be interacted with. Augmented reality is very unique in this sense, because using your smartphone or other devices, it can superimpose computer generated images onto the real world. This therefore combines what you see in reality with what is generated on the display.
This brings us to the 3D menu. A 3D menu is a virtual menu that you can access on your device. When you go to a restaurant, you can point your smartphone camera at the menu. Your device and the appropriate software will then analyze the menu and generate three-dimensional images or videos on your phone.
By simply pointing your camera at the menu, your screen can display images of all of the menu items and much more. This allows you to see your favorite dishes in three-dimensions and in full color with your own eyes before ordering. It’s a great way to help restaurant patrons decide which dishes to order. It’s all about using AR generated images to create visual appeal.
Restaurants can take stunning images of their dishes and then upload them into the VR system, thus allowing customers to choose their dishes in a much more visual manner, as opposed to having to pick dishes based on written words. 3D menus can also provide customers with many other interactive experiences, which we will discuss further below.
Restaurants Using AR and 3D Menus
There are quite a few examples out there of restaurants that are currently using augmented reality and 3D menus to encourage customers to purchase their items. Here are some prime examples.
Robinsons Fruit Shoot
This particular restaurant has begun using augmented reality in a very interesting way, to keep children occupied when sitting in their restaurants. Here you will find augmented reality coloring books for kids to keep them busy while waiting for food. It’s a really cool feature that parents in particular really love.
Another example of a restaurant using a 3D menu is Pizza Hut. Here, you can browse the menu and place your order using augmented reality. There is also a special trivia challenge available using augmented reality. Interestingly enough, this was one of the first restaurants to implement AR.
Le Petit Chef
Le Petit Chef is another prime example of augmented reality being used in restaurants. This particular restaurant turns your plate into a live dinner theater with an augmented story being played out right in front of you on your plate. It's an amusing way to keep busy while you wait for your meal to arrive.
Here we have a very high end and fancy Italian restaurant that uses augmented reality to display their menu items in very impressive ways.
All of the dishes have QR codes and web links, which can easily be shared, both on the website and in social networks as well as in the restaurant itself. Even better is that using this feature does not even involve you needing to install a certain mobile application.
How Augmented Reality Can Be Used by Restaurants
While creating three-dimensional menus is certainly one of the biggest benefits of augmented reality in restaurants, there are also other ways in which it can be used.
1. 3D Menus in Restaurants
Yes, of course, making 3D virtual menus is one of the main uses of AR in the restaurant industry. It really is truly fantastic, because no longer do customers have to base their food ordering decisions on words and dish titles alone.
Rather, restaurant patrons get colorful, descriptive, and visually appealing images and videos of the foods they wish to order. Being able to see a dish before you purchase it can go a long way in ensuring that you’ll be happy with it once the food arrives at your table.
2. AR Wine Lists
Although not much different from three-dimensional menus, restaurants can also use augmented reality to create wine lists in a virtual manner. Restaurants can provide customers with visual representations of wine bottles and much more.
Potentially, restaurants could add a much more immersive AR experience for wine lists, potentially transporting users to the places where these wines are made, even showing the farms where the grapes are grown and processed.
It could allow restaurants to really tell the backstory behind each bottle of wine and what makes it so special.
3. Preview Foods When Ordering Online
Augmented reality menus aren't just for customers ordering inside of restaurants, but also for ordering online.
With Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, and many other such food delivery companies, it’s becoming much more common for people to order food from the comfort of their own homes.
Restaurants and delivery services are slowly starting to take advantage of this by creating three-dimensional AR menus so people can order from home and know exactly what they are getting.
4. Interactive Experiences
Restaurants can also use their three-dimensional augmented reality menus to create interactive experiences for customers.
For instance, an AR experience could be used to host an interactive cooking class for restaurant patrons. This allows people to see how their food is cooked, and they could even imagine themselves cooking that same dish!
Some locations are also starting to superimpose digital art and other objects onto their restaurants.
Thus, when a customer holds their phone up to look around the restaurant, they might see certain pieces of art, objects, or whatever else the restaurant chooses to program into the system.
5. AR Marketing
Augmented reality can of course also be used for marketing purposes. Restaurants could have phone screens display various advertisements when the camera is pointed at certain objects, menu items, or more. Augmented reality is just the next step in advertising and sales.
6. Virtual Restaurant Tours
One of the neatest aspects of AR being used in restaurants is the virtual tour. Many people want to see the restaurant that they are planning on dining in before they visit the location.
After all, if you want to have a nice meal, the atmosphere and appearance of the restaurant is important to consider.
Using augmented reality allows restaurants to put their best foot forward and display their stunning décor to potential patrons before they ever step foot in the physical location.
7. Chef Demonstrations
What AR in restaurants could also be used for are chef’s demonstrations. You could potentially watch a chef cook the very same dish that you’re about to eat, and that’s something that many patrons are bound to love.
8. AR Games for Customers
As mentioned previously, AR can also be used in restaurants to provide customers, especially kids, with games to play. It’s something to keep your kids busy while everyone waits for their food.
Impact of AR on Customer Experience
AR is truly changing the restaurant landscape, and most would argue that these changes are for the better. So, what impact is AR having on the experience of customers in restaurants?
1. Increased Customer Satisfaction
One big benefit of AR menus in restaurants is that it helps to increase customer satisfaction. Customers can now view their meals before they order them.
It increases the chances of people ordering foods that they’ll really like, instead of ordering blindly and having a dish come to your table that you might rather not eat.
2. A More Entertaining Experience
Customers are also just loving AR in restaurants because it provides a more interactive and entertaining dining experience.
No longer do you just have to sit there in silence and wait for your food. Now you can play games, take virtual tours, look at all of the menu items on your phone display, and so much more. It’s just a whole lot of fun!
3. Keeping Kids Busy
Restaurant patrons with children are also seeming to enjoy their experiences more. Looking after children when trying to enjoy a meal in public is very stressful.
However, if AR can keep kids busy, then parents can enjoy their dining experiences much more.
4. Making a Connection with Restaurants
Interactive experiences with restaurants can also help customers feel more connected to a restaurant. It can bring a certain level of emotion and nostalgia to any dining experience.
5. Ordering More Food
At the very least, if people have access to VR menus, they are likely to order more food, which is also beneficial for the revenue of the restaurant.
How to Create a 3D Menu
Unfortunately, creating 3D menus is relatively difficult, especially for the average person. If you don’t have much programming or coding experience, then this is not something that you can just do on your own (at least not without the right tools).
Furthermore, because this is a relatively new technology, developing apps or systems for restaurants with high-end functionality can be very costly.
For instance, if you were to hire AR developers to create a new menu or AR system for your restaurant from scratch, it could cost you up to $50,000. However, there is a more affordable solution that still manages to produce great results, and this is a service known as CSCONNECT AR.
Using CSCONNECT AR to Create Affordable AR
CSCONNECT AR offers people a simple AR creation tool that can be used from home, all without having to hire expensive developers. It’s a much more affordable option for restaurants who want to get into the 3D menu game.
All you have to do is first view the tips and tutorials. Then, create your concept and start choosing visuals, moving objects, audio, calls-to-action, and more. Once you have a plan of action, you need to prepare your visual 3D assets.
Using the CSCONNECT AR editor, you can start creating a virtual world and uploading your virtual assets, along with necessary parameters. You can also test everything to see how it looks, and finally publish the final product on various operating systems and browsers.
Beyond AR – QR Codes and AR Experiences
The fact is that restaurants can now also start putting QR codes on their menus which can lead to a variety of highly interactive experiences. Whether it be a simple 3D menu, kids’ games, a tour of the restaurant, or a cooking show, there is so much that restaurants can do with new AR technology.
The bottom line here is that although AR is still relatively new, it’s always being improved upon, with more interactive activities and options, and much better visuals being developed on a daily basis.
Restaurants looking to keep pace with the developments taking place in the world of technology should absolutely consider implementing AR into their establishments, and it all starts with the 3D menu!