On Saturday I went to a confectionery next my house to buy some sweet stuff… it’s a classical Italian pastry shop: little, owned by a family, traditional and with super-tasty stuff all over the place. Sometimes it’s just relaxing to stay in such old-school places, smell the scent of food and forget all the *R devices I use everyday (eating donuts in Job Simulator is great, but it doesn’t fill my stomach… :D).

Suddenly I noticed a little cardbox with tiny chocolate tables with cute pictures on them… I looked at the price… and it was €13! Something like 4x the expected value… what the heck? Well, I talked with the girl serving me and I discovered that this was not simple chocolate, it was augmented reality chocolate! What the… mixed reality technologies follow me everywhere!

I got curious about this and had a little talk with her, but of course talking about feature recognition with her was not a choice. Anyway, I tried to explain her what augmented reality is in a very simple way and she told me that she started selling this magical chocolate one or two months ago and that, despite the price, it was selling really well.

Augmented reality chocolate
Pirates + Chocolate + AR = awesomeness (Image by Magic Xperience)

From a technical standpoint, the idea of this chocolate is really really simple: the chocolate has a picture printed on it, that acts as a marker for an augmented reality system (like Vuforia). If you install the dedicated app, you can look at the marker with your phone/tablet and see something amazing to happen. You surely know a bazillion apps that already do that… and if you want to do something similar, with Vuforia it is a matter of minutes (graphical elements apart, of course). So, why I’m writing this little article about this simple app?

  • Because it mixes something really traditional with technology. Chocolate and augmented reality appear to me as completely unrelated stuff. Food is something connected with our deepest instinct, with our senses… it is natural… while augmented reality is the essence of technology. I love the mix of things from completely different fields, because they create something unique. And this is one of these mixes. Imagine a future with food & AR technologies… we could force our children to eat broccoli showing them a funny cartoon dragon floating over the plate, convincing them that eating broccoli they could become amazing knights. At least, people could have a real reason to take that damn phone and put it in front of food every damn time 😀 .
  • Because it solves the problem of marker trashing. I’ve still lots of marker here in the office with Metaio Man, despite the fact that Metaio vanished 2 years ago (vanished = Apple bought it). Too much paper wasted just to test some apps. With chocolate markers, you try the AR experience, enjoy it and then you eat the marker, solving all the problems of what to do with it after the usage. Of course printing all the markers on chocolate is not a viable way, because we all would become obese, but anyway it’s an interesting possibility.
Augmented reality chocolate
The little chocolate table on a cake, ready to astonish the little girl having the party (Image by Magic Xperience)
  • Because it uses the product and not the box. Lots of companies use AR-related stuff for their products, but usually you have to use the box of the product as marker. Here you use the product itself and this is what will happen in the far future, where the AR glass will recognize what we are eating from colour and shape and will show additional images directly onto it.
  • Because it’s a smart business way to sell a product. I like chocolate and I can easily distinguish a good quality chocolate by a bad one. But among good chocolates, I spot little differences between one another. With this idea of magical chocolate, the company behind it can sell a product 4x its value, with little additional expenses (the software is made only once, so it’s a fixed cost). The entrepreneur that is in me loves their idea and says kudos to them!

The company behind it is a French company named Artech Sas and the product is Magic Xperience. You can see its chocolates product page here. If you’re a geek like me, but you’re not a Vuforia dev like me… you can surely think using this product on the cake of your children 😉 I like their idea because it is truly original… great job!

As always, let me know what do you think about it… and… happy chocolate!