Imagine you’re walking through a grove of orange trees in Southern California. You pick an orange off the tree, peel it and the smell and taste of citrus wafts around you. Now imagine rather than holding the real fruit, you’re actually experiencing it through a VR headset hooked up with tubes of chemicals.
That’s what Virtual TasteTrek® Citrus delivers—a virtual food experience combining the sight, smell and taste of citrus through a VR headset. Not only can you see the citrus groves in 360-degrees around you, you can actually smell and taste the flavors of citrus.
Virtual TasteTrek® Citrus may seem futuristic, but it is already helping food and beverage companies develop flavors faster and remotely. Givaudan, a Swiss manufacturer and global leader in creating custom flavors and fragrances, cooperated with Groove Jones, an award-winning creative and technology studio, in creating the experience.
Virtual food adventure transports customers to citrus groves
Each year Givaudan invites small groups of customers to take part in a TasteTrek®—a global food journey to discover new ingredients and varietals.
For the citrus group, customers usually travel to the University of California Riverside (UCR) to visit the Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection. This collection contains more than 1,000 varieties of citrus, including grapefruits, lemons, oranges, kumquats and more. Givaudan’s clients who are looking to develop new citrus scents and flavors can visit UCR’s collection to better understand the citrus market.
But busy schedules and geographical constraints sometimes make it difficult for Givaudan to offer the experience to all its customers. Plus, current COVID-19 travel restrictions make it impossible for visitors to come from overseas.
Enter Virtual TasteTrek® Citrus. This immersive virtual food adventure uses virtual reality technology to transport customers to the UCR groves. Combining sight, sound and smell, the experience enables users to learn about the citrus market landscape and co-create their own flavors.
The experience takes users through an interactive 360-degree virtual tour of the Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection at UCR. The Groove Jones team created a custom application that runs on Oculus Go headsets and a desktop platform which allows multi-users to experience it together.
The App communicates with Givaudan’s proprietary Virtual Aroma Synthesizer® (VAS) technology, which generates the flavors. Through the hose system connected to the headset, the user can smell and taste the citrus they are viewing. Givaudan researchers painstakingly analyzed a variety of fruit samples to recreate the flavors in the system.
How virtual food experiences help F&B brands connect with customers
Beyond education, Virtual TasteTrek® Citrus is also about sparking inspiration in Givaudan’s customers. Users can sample selected flavors, increase or decrease key notes and start co-creating their own flavors. They might add more cinnamon notes, tone down the fruity notes or adjust the ripeness for instance.
Using VR technology is a game-changer for Givaudan. The ability to provide the virtual grove experience while engaging the users’ olfactory senses and their own creativity makes this technology one-of-a-kind.
Since its launch in February 2020, the Givaudan team has implemented this system globally—despite a global pandemic. Now more customers than ever can experience their own personal TasteTrek® with citrus flavors.
We can increase engagement times, change customer sentiment and connect with an audience through these technologies.Dan Ferguson, Groove Jones
“There is an insatiable appetite from customers for surprise and delight moments. We love working with brands that want to break away from what they have been doing for years and try a different and innovative approach to their marketing and training efforts,” Dan Ferguson, co-founder and partner of Groove Jones, said.
Groove Jones has worked with numerous F&B companies, like Nestle, General Mills, Corona and Model, to take their audiences on fantastic tours. Using next-generation tools, they deliver interactive experiences to help customers learn about their products and social programs.
With this virtual food experience, Ferguson says, “We’ve proven that compelling VR and AR narrative and interactive experiences increase sales. We can increase engagement times, change customer sentiment and connect with an audience through these technologies.”
How the virtual food experience was shot
Groove Jonesis an award-winning creative and technology studio specializing in developing immersive Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences for brands, theme parks and museums. Their team of strategists, artists, developers and engineers work with their clients to create best-in-class custom narratives or interactive installations.
The Insta360 Pro 2 is a workhorse for us and has become our go-to camera for our productions.Dan Ferguson, Groove Jones
Groove Jones shot the immersive tour of the groves with Insta360 Pro 2, a RC rover system and a drone. Ferguson said of the Pro 2, “The Insta360 Pro 2 is a workhorse for us and has become our go-to camera for our productions. With many moving shots and drone shots, its FlowState stabilization was a huge bonus for the production.”
Using the Farsight live monitoring system, they were able to ensure they got the best shots of the groves. “Farsight allowed us to be significantly more productive on location. We were able to view the production from a distance with low latency and great quality. This has become one of the top features we rely on now on any of our productions. We were blown away by the distance ability too,” Ferguson said.
Farsight allowed us to be significantly more productive on location.Dan Ferguson, Groove Jones
Ferguson is excited about the future applications for VR technology in business. He says, “The technologies available today give us unimaginable options. The technologies help brands connect with their customers, and customers react positively to them.”
About Groove Jones: Groove Jones is an award-winning creative and technology studio specializing in developing immersive Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences for training and marketing purposes. Our founders are considered the original 360º filmmakers as they were behind many of the launch content created for the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive. Our team of US-based strategists, artists, developers, and engineers work with our clients to create best-in-class custom narrative and interactive applications utilizing next-generation technologies. For more information visit https://www.groovejones.com/.