Powai eatery lets you play with food, and order it using AR technology

Updated: Jan 06, 2019, 09:02 IST | Prutha Bhosle | Mumbai

A Powai cafe offers a menu upgraded with technology where you can play with your food, compare prices and order it as well

3-D images of the food appear on the phone screen
3-D images of the food appear on the phone screen

Smells wafting from the kitchen, a traditional menu card and glimpses of orders being taken by waiters to tables were the only ways, thus far, to get a sense of what to order at a restaurant. Who hasn't had that soul-crushing disappointment when a much-awaited meal turns out to be nothing like what'd you'd imagined.

Not at Powai's Sandoitchi. Here, a partnership with peAR Technologies, a Mumbai-based startup run by Dharmin Vora (19) and 21-year-olds Varun Vora, Parth Vora and Dhruvesh Mehta, gives a new meaning to 'playing with your food' thanks to augmented reality (AR) which adds a twist to their menu, making it a first for the city.

On the smartphone provided on the table which already has a peAR Technologies application installed on it, we toss around our sandwich like it is Pikachu from the breakthrough AR game Pokemon GO. Operating it is fairly simple. Once the smartphone screen comes to life, you scan the target code (a sheet glued on your table), and voila! 3-dimensional images of meals appear on the screen.

Pear Technologies team. Pic/Sneha Kharabe
Pear Technologies team. Pic/Sneha Kharabe

The tech is still in its testing stage at the restaurant, and so, there are only three food items to pick from in this upgraded menu: Max Mex Doitchi (a sandwich), cheese nachos and molten lava cake. The app gives you the liberty to rotate every meal on screen and take a closer look at the texture, stuffed veggies, melting cheese and mayonnaise. All it took was a single click to help dive into virtual reality. You then add items in the cart and place your order. It also gives you a sense of how large (or small) the portions are. Another thing that you don't need to leave to chance.

Just another gimmick to add to a restaurant's novelty? That's what we thought initially, but when the real dishes arrived on the table, there was little (aside from taste) to tell them apart from what one had seen on the smartphone.

Dharmin, a student at NM College, explains, "A while back when I went to a restaurant and placed my order, I was thoroughly disappointed with what I got. That was when I thought how incredible it would be if every customer could actually see the food before ordering it. This not just strikes out chances of wasting food, but also drives sales for restaurants." To this, Parth, who was also accompanying us during our first AR experience, adds, "We first took pictures of the food and then created a prototype. As of now, we have only added three items on the application. But, by February, we will have all of 40 options from Sandoitchi on the AR menu."

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