You AR what you eat — augmented reality menus are coming to Snapchat

The smells wafting from the kitchen, a crinkled and torn paper menu, and the fleeting glimpses of orders the waiter is deftly balancing on his way to another table may no longer be the only ways to preview what you eat at a restaurant. Start-up Kabaq is aiming to bring the next big technology-influenced change for restaurants and foodies since Instagram sparked a surge in food photography: an augmented reality menu.

kabaq ar menus on snapchat bareburger img 6474 copy

Burger chain Bareburger will be among the first restaurants to allow customers to see their meal right in front of them — before ever placing an order.

Using custom Snapchat World Lenses, customers can scan a Snapcode to place a virtual dish on the table, resizing and mixing it with other filters and, of course, snapping a photo to send to a friend.

Created from images of a real burger, the augmented reality lenses allow diners to preview their dish from any angle. As Bareburger prepares to introduce an AR menu, the burger chain is giving out 5,000 Snapcodes that offer a sneak of the progress on that menu.

Anyone can scan the Snapcode to play with the Lens, but the foodie with the physical ticket can turn it in for the real version of that filter, for free. 

The restaurant chain is randomly giving out those codes with takeout orders through April 22 at locations in the U.S. and Dubai.

Kabaq is a food-focused AR company that launched in 2016. Co-Founders Alper Guler and Caner Soyer previously worked in the augmented reality space creating tools for interior design and furniture. The idea for Kabaq came after trying to explain the dishes at a Turkish restaurant to a friend, a difficult task without the help of visuals.

Created from images
of a real burger, the augmented reality lenses allow diners to preview their dish from any angle.

“We believe Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are changing the food we are eating at the restaurant,” Guler said. “Food is more visual than ever because most people, before they start eating, shoot a photo for their Instagram account. This started creating more traffic to restaurants. With AR, restaurants can create even more visuals to drive more traffic to the restaurant itself.”

While Bareburger is bringing its lenses to Snapchat, Kabaq builds AR lenses that can be used in a number of different ways. Along with Snapchat, the food models can be integrated into other social apps, like the Facebook Camera, or used inside the Kabaq app, itself. Restaurants could also build the AR food items into their own apps, putting the AR menu alongside other app functions like placing an order and finding locations. 

Restaurant chains have the option of integrating the AR menu into an app designed for the chain, but Guler says the integration with existing platforms like Snapchat and Facebook Camera speeds up the process. Instead of having to download an app to view the menu, diners can scan a Snapcode using an app that many already have.

kabaq ar menus on snapchat bareburger img 6472header

The menu is created from real dishes from the restaurant using photogrammetry — a process of taking several pictures of something from different angles in order to create a 3D model. Kabaq then converts the images into a model and optimizes the food item for the AR program.

When it comes to food, Guler explained, the slightest color differences between the AR version of a dish and the real thing will make it feel very off. The company spends a lot of time making the models are accurate, while also ensuring the AR filters run smoothly on a phone.

Restaurants can also integrate prices and nutrition information into the menu items using info boxes that are paired with the 3D model

Restaurants can also integrate prices and nutrition information into the menu items using info boxes that are paired with the 3D model. Like other Snapchat lenses, the menu lenses can be resized, so while they’ll give diners an idea of what to order, the filters won’t offer an idea on portion sizes without additional information, like accompanying info boxes.

Besides seeing the dish before ordering (and that “cool” factor), the technology could also create menus that are more eco-friendly than paper. Bareburger is focused on ethically sourced ingredients, and hope the AR menu can eventually replace paper as part of the company’s eco-friendly initiative.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Emerging Tech

Hope it doesn’t melt! Rocket to ISS carries vital supplies — including ice cream

A rocket has launched over Virginia's eastern shore, carrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Inside the spacecraft are supplies for the ISS itself and the crew onboard, such as scientific equipment and food.
Gaming

Tips for surviving the nuclear wasteland in 'Fallout 76'

Before running into nuclear wasteland with your Pip-Boy, take a moment to consider these Fallout 76 tips. From food and water to maintaining weapons and armor, here are the things all beginners should know.
Social Media

Dine and dash(board): Make a Yelp reservation from your car’s control panel

Already in the car, but can't decide where to eat? Yelp Reservations can now be added to some dashboard touchscreens. Yelp Reservations searches for restaurants within 25 miles of the vehicle's location.
Computing

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."
Social Media

Pinterest brings followed content front and center with full-width Pin format

Want to see Pinterest recommendations, or just Pins from followed users? Now Pinners can choose with a Pinterest Following feed update. The secondary feed eliminates recommendation and is (almost) chronological.
Smart Home

Facebook's Alexa-enabled video-calling devices begin shipping

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.
Social Media

Vine fans, your favorite video-looping app is coming back as Byte

Vine fans were left disappointed in 2017 when its owner, Twitter, pulled the plug on the video-looping app. But now one of its co-founders has promised that a new version of the app, called Byte, is coming soon.
News

Social media use increases depression and anxiety, experiment shows

A study has shown for the first time a causal link between social media use and lower rates of well-being. Students who limited their social media usage to 30 minutes a day showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."