The Founders Feature: An Augmented Appetite.

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

The Founders Feature
A conversation with Alper Guler the co-founder of QReal, a start-up tech company that focuses on using augmented reality to create hyperreal experiences.

Established in 2016, QReal has acquired a unique portfolio. Having worked with the likes of Subway, Domino’s and most recently Chanel, to create social media savvy virtual experiences, the brand excels at content, storytelling & distribution. In an article written by Forbes Qreal is described as ‘a useful marketing tool’ that ‘fills a large gap in the emerging market by providing true-to-life presentation and dynamic storytelling’, technology that we can expect to see flourish as restaurants become increasingly reliant on tech amidst a global crisis.

PO: What gave you the idea to start QReal?

ALPER GULER: In 2016, I was living in New York — invited friends to my favorite Turkish restaurant in New York. I love the traditional Turkish cuisine there but there was one problem, none of my New Yorker friends had an idea about the items on the menu. I saved the day by ordering all my favorites for the table but the idea of using AR for food ordering sparked in my mind. At the time, my business partner Caner Soyer and I were trying to create augmented and virtual reality experiences for the architecture market. I told my experience at the Turkish restaurant to Caner, and we based our idea around the Sampuru — Plastic Food tradition. Initially, we named the company, kabaq.io

QReal AR Technology

PO: I understand that you rebranded Qreal to expand your market, can you explain this in more detail?

ALPER GULER: For the first two years, the team had perfected a proprietary process for creating hyper-realistic culinary models — one of the most difficult products to capture in 3D. With developments in the tech space, the company now has the opportunity to scale the business into other verticals including fashion, luxury, and consumer packaged goods. That presented a large opportunity for growth, so we adapt our techniques to new verticals. Kabaq.io was solely focused on food so we decided to rebrand

PO: How do you think Qreal can help restaurants respond to safety measures post-pandemic?

ALPER GULER: Coronavirus pandemic caused mass restaurant closures and the trend seems like it will continue. Most brands are trying new operational models like takeaway-only. Food brands and restaurants must adapt to the changes, and I believe 3D and AR will help them to present their food in a better way while ordering online. Stimulating hunger is incredibly powerful, but we also want to understand its impact on actual decision-making. Our goal is not just to heighten the brand through AR, but to also increase sales or upsell customers.

Qreal QR code In The Economist

A study carried out on QReal’s AR food models in collaboration with the University of New South Wales Business School, King’s Business School, Maastricht University and the University of Sussex and published in the Journal of Retail, found that

the AR-enabled frontline improves decision comfort, motivates positive WOM (word of mouth) and facilitates choice of higher value products.

PO: Do you think that restaurants will adopt more digital strategies such as AR going forward?

ALPER GULER: I totally believe AI will be part of restaurants, from how food agriculture, collect, store, order and cook.

Here is a video we created as a concept for AR and AI: https://youtu.be/hol9VDnfnJs

PO: What other sectors can benefit from this technology?

ALPER GULER: The fashion industry is tailor-made for an augmented reality explosion. Just picture yourself trying on different shirts digitally; it’s too good. From virtual try-ons, to detailed product inspection, to camera activated logos, to what my mom calls “bright and shiny” camera filters — what we wear will come to life in the virtual world.

Qreal Snow globe for Chanel

PO: What do you most look forward to about AR technology in a post-pandemic world?

ALPER GULER: The next generation of mobile phones will actually be augmented glasses, which Microsoft, Apple, and Snapchat are all currently working on, and this will have a major impact on the way we live.

Wearing these glasses, we will experience the augmented world while walking down the street. We will be looking at a restaurant and it will show all the food items already on the table and you can make your order outside