Choosing a wedding cake is — I assume — a big deal. Not only do you want to pick one that tastes excellent, but you’ve also got to ensure that the confection matches your floral arrangements and the bridesmaid’s dresses, and… I guess just generally looks nice. And when you’re investing in something as significant and expensive as a wedding cake, the stakes can be high.
To help combat this anxiety, New York City’s Magnolia Bakery partnered with Kabaq to debut what it says is the world’s first augmented reality (AR) catering menu. Kabaq, a NYC-based startup founded in 2016, stitches together 360° photographs to create and project 3D visualizations of food — which, I must say, look pretty darn realistic. At Magnolia Bakery, engaged couples can use Kabaq’s tech to display virtual wedding cakes onto the tables in front of them, zooming in and out on frosted details and rotating the confections with a flick of their finger.
This isn’t NYC-based Kabaq’s first AR-powered foray into the food space. Last month, the Economist debuted a Snapchat AR filter made with Kabaq which enabled users to envision what meals might look like in the future, from insect-laden dishes to 3D-printed food. Kabaq also teamed up with Domino’s to create a Snapchat-driven ad campaign, which allowed people to “see” a 3D image of a pizza when looking through the app. Most recently, they partnered with Bareburger to transform the chain’s menus into a 3D visual guide.
Kabaq’s app is free to download for users. Businesses who want to use their AR services can either book a Kabaq photographer to shoot 360° images of their products, or else buy a “photoshoot set” and do it themselves.
More and more food businesses are leveraging AR for enhanced customer experience, ads, or just publicity stunts. Suggestic leverages AR to help health-conscious people stick to their diet plans at restaurants, while Waygo helps translates menus into English. Chinese startup Coolhobo is using AR to enhance the grocery shopping experience for millennials. In the agtech world, Huxley is combining AR with AI to optimize plant growth.
Maybe seeing a 3D rendering of a wedding cake isn’t exponentially more illuminating than looking at a photo of it, but these steps by Kabaq and others indicate the potential of AR in food. We’re not far from a future where we will be able to see exactly what our meals — or three-tiered cakes — look like before we order them.
Hopefully, menu anxiety will soon be a thing of the past.