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Technology Brings 3-D Images to Food Menus

Startup Hopes to Show 3-D Versions of Menu Items
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It's not always easy to know what to order when dining out. But a tech startup in New York is hoping to help, using augmented reality to bring restaurant menus to life.

Technology Brings 3-D Images to Food Menus
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It is not always easy to know what food to order at restaurants. But a new company in New York is hoping to help. The company offers menu items in augmented reality. The technology places computer-generated images into the user's view of the real world.

At Vino Levantino wine bar in New York City, the desserts are tasty but many visitors may have never heard of them.

“We have a few desserts that are not usual ... or people (are) not familiar with them. Like we have the kadaif, I mean, not everyone knows what’s kadaif.”

Instead of explaining the traditional Middle Eastern sweet to restaurant visitors, owner Haim Amit shows them.

The Kabaq augmented reality application displays models of the desserts in 3-D on an iPad. Customers at each table use an iPad to explore the desserts.

How it works

Alper Guler is the founder of Kabaq.

“Humans are visual creatures, and we are creating really realistic 3-D food models."

The technology company is helping diners decide what to eat and making traditional menus more modern.

Guler and his team visit restaurants to capture 3-D images of dishes. They place dishes on a turning table inside a photo box and the camera scans the dishes from all sides.

“We have special equipment that stands here, shooting a bunch of pictures at the same time. So, the turntable turns, our system takes all the pictures along the way. And we go back to our office and basically start processing all of these images."

For their services, Kabaq charges $99-$199 per month.

Sales, fun increase

Amit says the technology is not only increasing profits at his restaurant but offering customers a special experience.

"It's not just the sale, the sales grow like about 22 percent overall on average, but the experience with customers is different – they don't expect it and they really like it."

Amit says he has noticed how excited his customers are about it.

“They’re surprised that we come with something digital, it’s almost like a toy,” Amit said.

"It's so funny; it's like you have the whole plate in front of you. It's amazing."

Mike Cadoux is Kabaq's head of sales and partnerships. He said that seeing the different foods can greatly influence a customer.

“If I was going to get the $17 pasta, but I see the $28 steak and it looks amazing, (and) I go for the $28 steak," he said. "That’s a huge value to so many restaurants up and down the street.”

Foodies love the technology

3-D scanning technology is becoming a good option for people excited about food, often called foodies.

Artist Romain Rouffet used 3-D scanning to create a 3-D recipe for banoffee pie. Users can change the view sizes on all sides. The resulting video may signal the kinds of augmented reality developments soon to come.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Tina Trinh reported this story for VOA News. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

menu – n. a list of foods that may be ordered at a restaurant

dessert – n. sweet food eaten after the main part of a meal

familiar - adj. frequently seen, heard, or experienced

3-D – adj. made in a way that causes an image to appear to be three-dimensional

customer – n. someone who buys goods or services from a business

diner – n. a person who eats at a restaurant

scan – v. to use a special machine to read or copy into a computer

bunch – n. a group of things of the same kind that are held or tied together

toy – n. something that a child plays with