The Use of AR and VR in Restaurant Interior Design: An Enhanced Sensory Dining Experience
Traditional methods of approximating floorspace, for the purpose of ornamenting a room, have not always accounted for the height and visual weight of the area.
With developments in Artificial Intelligence, much of the guesswork and manual labour needed to plan the 2D format of a room has been eliminated. The rise of Augmented and Virtual Reality has changed the way designers create, perceive and decorate spaces with real-world items and virtual tools.
But what can be said about the application of AR and VR in the interior design of the restaurant industry? How can it be used to help develop comfortable spaces and unique dining experiences?
Traditionally, typical no-thrill dining experiences adhere to the following pattern:
Diners enter into the restaurant, they are seated, they may browse the menu, place an order and have the food delivered to their table.
The space in which this all happens is likely to have been designed with the restaurants’ theme in mind. The floorplan, walls, decoration and functionality of the rooms have been strategically put together to enhance the dining experience. Customers may remark on their settings and surroundings, but the general aesthetics and design of the venue are more practical than anything else.
Surely this experience should be one for all the senses? After all; sight, sound, smell, and texture all play important roles in creating an immersive dining experience.
Until recently the extent to which a restaurant can be enjoyed has been constrained by the limitations of manpower and non-technological aids. But with new technologies opening up avenues of interaction and exploration that were previously unavailable, restaurants are in a position where they can take their real-life physical space into the digital world.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Augmented Reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a users view of the real world. In other words, it allows guests to view through a screen, what isn’t actually there in real life. Ultimately, it closes the gap between imagination and reality.
With regards to the interior design of restaurants, scope to create an enhanced sensory dining experience is limitless. For example Decor, themes and surroundings could all become seasonal or part of a promotional effort without impacting on the budget or style of the interior.
Making Augmented Reality a Part of the Dining Experience
The first thing to consider is the design process of the restaurant itself.
AR Apps and Measuring tools have risen to prominence over the past few years. The effects have altered the design industry and lightened the load. Traditionally, interior designers, embarking on a project would need to carry with them a heavy tool kit to carry out tedious but necessary tasks. Through augmented reality technology, some tools have been replaced with all-encompassing mobile device apps.
Secondly, designers have the necessary tools to design restaurants and kitchens with AR in mind. Floor Planning can be designed both with AR, and to enable diners to enjoy the experience.
Floorplanning with AR removes the restrictions of 2D blueprints, and allows for an endless virtual portal for possibilities. Magicplan devises a virtual pin and grid that marks the corners of a room to determine dimensions and creates an accurately measured floor plan. Each plan can be saved as a PDF to share with contractors, designers, and clients. No more marking the floor with masking tape and markers!
Designing the restaurant with AR in mind should allow for the appropriate space, table placements and walls that are compatible with the projection of the superimposed computer generated image. For example, rather than decorate walls with what one might expect to see in a traditional restaurant, they should be fit for the theme of augmented reality vision. A family-friendly restaurant, for instance, should have the appropriate interior decoration for specific characters and novelty games to be projected into the room and enjoyed. Such games can be incorporated into encouraging children to eat healthily.
Augmented reality can improve customer engagement and experiences.
With AR, restaurants can create 3D models of actual menus or even dishes. Customers can use their smartphones or tablets to view the digital representations of food in their plates in front of them This gives them a better appreciation for portion size, ingredients, and nutritional information.
What is Virtual Reality (VR)?
Whilst augmented reality adds a digital element to a live view through a screen; virtual reality implies a complete immersion experience that totally shuts out the physical world. For the interior design industry, it allows users to create, edit and explore their designed spaces in real scale for the ultimate showcasing design experience.
For restaurants, this allows visitors to transport themselves straight to your dining rooms before they’ve even left their homes, potentially adding an entirely new level of engagement for takeaway orders or party events.
Often the most vivid appreciations of virtual reality are gained through headgear- not ideal for dining out as the technology currently stands, but this will likely change in the future.
VR can attract more visitor and offer a Unique Selling Point (USP) that blends fun and technology with food and dining experience.
The first thing customers will potentially see and experience is your restaurant dining space. This is an opportunity to create an accurate virtual reality and promote your brand.
Advancements in Remote AR have enabled multiple users to see and interact with the same AR scene, using different devices, in different geographical locations, at the same time. In other words, a group of hungry customers could potentially meet up and interact in a virtual representation of your restaurant, to decide if they will dine there.
An enhanced sensory dining experience is only truly apparent when all senses are engaged. Technological advancements in augmented and virtual reality bring the industry closer to completing the ultimate experience.
By making use of such technologies, you’re not only linking your business to the digital world, but you’re making it more inclusive and accessible. For example: If a person is hospitalised or finds it difficult to leave their home, they could order a takeaway meal from your establishment and then join their friends and family in a digital representation of your restaurant.
Or you could offer interactive promotions that encourage diners to download an AR augmented app that when used on certain items (such as ingredients found in your dishes, or your takeaway menu) reveal facts, offers and discounts.
This technology is only going to grow and evolve, and the applications of AR and VR will become more common in many businesses and industries as the requirements for its functioning (such as the headsets) become sleeker and more normalised.
How you decide to implement this in your business will depend on the needs and requirements of your venue, but as the digital world gradually blends with the physical, new experiences will only be limited by the imagination.