Eating in Virtual Reality (With a Dead Egyptian Queen)
Some things just go together, classic pairings like fish and chips, ham and eggs, and peanut butter and jelly. Or, maybe, cereal and 3,000-year-old Egyptian queen Cleopatra. The intrinsic connection between historical royalty and breakfast food is not one that you would normally consider, but cereal pusher Kellogg’s apparently thinks it’s so obvious that they have created a virtual reality experience that will see UK participants “transported back to ancient Egypt to eat breakfast alongside Cleopatra.”
Using the Oculus’ Rift headset, showing Cleo’s 3D breakfast chamber complete with table, bowl, milk jug, and semi-naked guard, users are taken back in time historic Egypt. It’s however not an entirely visual experience, as participants will have a real bowl of cereal in front of them, as well as a spoon connected to one of Razer’s Hydra controllers in order to translate real-world shoveling motions to virtual reality. While it is a strange combination, this isn’t even the first time Kellogg’s has cashed in on the virtual boom to sell cereal. Last year, the company put out boxes of Nutri-Grain cereal in New Zealand that when combined with a smartphone running a dedicated app could be worked into a functional VR headset.
The Cleopatra experience is designed to promote the company’s “Ancient Legends” cereal, designed, presumably, for people who like food, but wish it could be a few thousand years older.
Kelloggs is not the first company to work on VR eating as Samsung introduce an ambitious concept, last year, for the way we’ll eat out in the future – by strapping a virtual reality (VR) headset on and dining out beneath the waves.
A blog post on the company’s website lays out the process where restaurants can “create a complete experience around a meal, not just serve a plate of food.” The post posits that by eating out in VR, customers will be able to enjoy their food in a variety of settings, from a hillside in Tuscany to underneath the ocean surrounded by fish.
They however did not cover how you’re supposed to see what you’re eating if you’re looking at a virtual world but let’s not get bogged down by details – which I’m sure they’ll address later anyway.
Samsung said this idea has already been successfully trailed by Sublimotion – a company specializing in so called gastronomic experiences – at the Hard Rock Hotel in Ibiza.
It’s now looking for other restaurants to join the trend and start accessorizing meals uses Gear VR gadgets, a VR headset that uses the latest Samsung’s smartphones to work.
“When launching a virtual reality experience at your restaurant, the first consideration is what type of overall experience is needed for diners, and how to integrate all five senses,” the company explains.
“Once this is established, the restaurant plans out the meal. It is important that the food remains the focal point, and that the effects used only enhance the overall dining experience. Both the overall experience and the food should be drivers for all the other artistic and technological decisions for the event.”
In order not to miss out the practical side of it: “Staffing the event is another essential consideration, as each Sublimotion event requires a team of 21 to host the event for a just 12 diners.”