- Bareburger, a growing fast-casual burger chain started in New York City, plans to replace its paper menus with digital versions using augmented reality (AR), which overlays virtual images on a real background seen through a smartphone camera. Customers can scan a Snapcode, Snapchat's version of a QR code, to place a virtual meal on the table in front of them and see any dish before ordering, according to Digital Trends.
- Bareburger is running a promotion through April 22 that gives 100 random guests at its 35 locations in the U.S. and Dubai a "Gold Snapcode" with their takeout or delivery orders. Winners unlock the giveaways by scanning the ticket with the Snapchat camera to see AR images of their prize of burgers, fries, onion rings or dessert.
- The company partnered with startup Kabaq, which uses high-tech scanning to create 3-D models of restaurant dishes, to develop the virtual menus. Bareburger is testing the technology with a planned rollout to all its locations by July, Next Reality reports.
Bareburger's experiment with AR menus shows how the technology is evolving beyond fun photo filters to help the restaurant industry bring value to customers by creating realistic presentations of dishes before they place an order. It also shows how marketers can use Snapchat's development tools to create AR experiences that can be activated by scanning Snapcodes with the image-messaging app's camera. The more realistic presentations of food could also help restaurants market their dishes and upsell additional items like side orders, desserts or top-shelf cocktails.
As any user of social media knows, food is one of the most commonly photographed items that people share with their friends before they dig into a meal. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have made the visual presentation of food more important for restaurants — for better or for worse, as the tech also allows for easy sharing of poorly prepared foods that could bring about negative press. Tools like Bareburger's latest add a new dimension to word-of-mouth advertising, and because customers are already using Snapchat to browse the virtual menu, they may be more likely to snap and share the photos while they're on the platform. This user-generated content could drum up earned media for Bareburger in the process.
The collaboration with Bareburger marks a shift in the strategy of AR developer Kabaq, which first developed a mobile app to create 3-D images of food. But AR development has taken a major leap forward with software development templates like Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore, as well as authoring tools like Snapchat's Lens Studio and Facebook's AR Studio that lets smaller companies more easily create AR features without significant time and financial investments. That has led Kabaq to help restaurants like Bareburger to create AR experiences for smartphones. Kabaq's AR food models can be integrated with a restaurant's app or social media apps without requiring users to download a standalone, third-party app, a smart move as Kabaq leverages the fact that many consumers are already on Snapchat and can engage with the tool, per Next Reality.