There’s no denying that we live in an age of curated images, where every Instagram photo is cropped, edited, and put through a filter before it’s sent into the stratosphere.
Kabaq, one of the 13 companies pitching at the Startup Showcase for the Smart Kitchen Summit (SKS) this October, is leveraging virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) to create a more immersive food experience for our image-obsessed society. Thus far, the company has worked with Magnolia Bakery to help engaged couples see their wedding cake before the big day, and also led an AR campaign to let Snapchat users play with 3D-visualized pizzas.
But Kabaq founder Alper Guler has much grander ambitions for his company. Read our Q&A with Guler to get a better picture (pun intended) of their vision for a future in which our food choices are guided by VR and AR.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
The Spoon: First thing’s first: give us your 15-second elevator pitch.
Kabaq: As Kabaq, we create the most lifelike 3D models of food in the world through AR/VR. Our main goal is to help customers to decide what to eat, while at the same time helping restaurants to push premium items and tell stories about their food.
What inspired you to start Kabaq?
The era of Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat has changed what and how we eat at restaurants. Today food isn’t just about taste; it’s also about the visual experience. Now social platforms and smartphone manufacturers have created this shift in food, investing and pushing heavily in immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality. These two emerging trends inspired us to bring Kabaq into life.
What’s the most challenging part of getting a food tech startup off the ground?
Food and technology are connected to dining experiences more than ever. Technology is improving our experience of how we grow, source, discover and order food. But adaptation of new technology has been slow, and we are experiencing a relatively slow response from the market.
How will Kabaq change the day-to-day life of its users?
In the future I believe smart glasses will replace smartphones. Everybody will use these smart glasses to engage with digital experiences around them. Imagine you are in this restaurant, using your augmented reality glasses: you can see the whole menu on your table virtually, and even order through your glasses. Don’t worry about the check — it is already paid through your glasses.
VR can also change how we order delivery. Think about how we used to connect to the internet through dial-up modems. We needed to disconnect from the internet to call and order food for pick-up. Then, companies like Seamless created platforms to order food online. With mobile phones and location-based services like UberEats, the experience became even more smooth.
In the near future I believe when you are connected to VR, you will also order your food in VR. We will create the world’s first virtual food court for people to visit through VR and order directly through the same system.
What’s next for Kabaq?
We are creating beneficial use-cases for using AR in-restaurants, delivery apps, marketing, catering and cookbooks. We’re working to bring AR to all aspects of food — and soon.
Thanks, Alper! Get your tickets to SKS to hear him pitch alongside 12 emerging food tech companies at our Startup Showcase and get a taste of how Kabaq applies VR to food.