You dine on the first course of the meal in a garden in Tuscany, surrounded by flowers with a winery in the distance. You adjust your Samsung Gear VR glasses as a cool wind blows and you catch the rich fragrance of the gardens. But when your main course arrives, you now find yourself underwater with dolphins playing and fish swimming. Your Italian table setting has been transformed into an underwater experience and the light in the room has changed to reflect the underwater scene. You can even see bubbles arising from your drinks and water splashes on the table in 3D.

Now imagine that all of this occurred without leaving the Ibiza hotel, or the seat you were in. The magic you see, hear, taste, smell and feel comes from virtual reality technology. By using Samsung Gear VR, restaurants can take the already sensory experience of dining to a new level. While there is a wow factor to using this cutting-edge technology, the impact of virtual reality is a natural fit for restaurants that want to create a complete experience around a meal, not just serve a plate of food.

Sublimotion, along with award-winning chef Paco Roncero, recently hosted their second virtual reality event using this technology at the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza. The concept earned Sublimotion the Best Innovation in F&B award at the Worldwide Hospitality Awards in 2014. Virtual reality technology has matured to allow people of all levels of technical expertise to both create an experience and participate in a virtual reality simulation.

Using Gear VR at Your Restaurant

When launching a virtual reality experience at your restaurant, the first consideration is what type of overall experience is needed for diners, and how to integrate all five sense. Once this is established, the restaurant plans out the meal. It is important that the food remains the focal point, and that the effects used only enhance the overall dining experience. Both the overall experience and the food should be drivers for all the other artistic and technological decisions for the event.

Before getting into the details and technical aspects, consider the available space for the event and really think through how to best use this space. You may need a room separate from the main dining room to create a full sensory experience. Sublimotion’s event at the Ibiza hotel incorporated not just the Samsung Gear VR, but 360-degrees of displays and used nearly 230 feet of white walls to create an ever changing visual backdrop. Staffing the event is another essential consideration, as each Sublimotion event requires a team of 21 to host the event for a just 12 diners.

But by integrating virtual reality technology into your restaurant even on a less ambitious scale, you will quickly stand out from the crowd both with the innovative technology and the unique experience that highlights your cuisine. This is something that will help draw in new customers, and keep loyal customers coming back to try something new.

Interested in integrating virtual reality into your restaurant experience? Since Samsung Gear VR is compatible with the several of the newest Samsung Galaxy smartphones, restaurateurs can try out this technology using their existing devices.

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Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Jennifer Gregory has been writing for 20 years and has focused on the hospitality industry for the past five years. She has written for numerous publications, including, MSN Money, Fox Business, Success Magazine, QSR magazine, Hospitality Technology magazine and American Express OPENForum. She works for a variety of national brands including IBM, Allstate, Intuit, Infusionsoft, American Express and Costco. She has a master’s degree in technical communication with a specialization in technology. Follow Jen on Twitter: @byJenGregory

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