If you're hungry for pizza and ordering from Domino's in Australia, you can now see what your pie will look like in augmented reality before placing your order.
Available through the App Store and Google Play, the updated Domino's mobile app includes New Pizza Chef, an entertaining tool that lets customers build a virtual version of their pizza and their chosen toppings.
"Innovations such as the New Pizza Chef with augmented reality are important as they help us to continue to drive online sales, and with up to two million items sold online in one week, we know it's important for us to always be making the online ordering experience more seamless, rewarding, and memorable for our customers," said Michael Gillespie, Domino's Group chief digital and technology officer in a statement.
Once the virtual pizza is dressed, users can see it "baked" in front of them via flame effects. The AR experience also displays animated avocado and pineapple characters to up the fun factor (and disgust those who prefer more traditional toppings).
"When we decided to create New Pizza Chef with augmented reality we wanted to create a more enriching experience for our customers. One of the top priorities was to make the images as realistic as possible. We've also included a number of surprise and delight elements so that any pizza making experience can be even more enjoyable. Think funny characters, stickers and pop up surprises," said Nick Knight, Domino's Australia CEO. "While it's going to help customers choose between the billions of possible variations, it's also going to be a lot of fun."
The app uses the surface tracking capabilities in ARKit and ARCore to display the 3D content in physical space. In addition, the app's developers rendered the content via the Unity engine.
"Google's ARCore and Apple's ARKit uses the phone's camera to provide stable, advanced spatial awareness and an understanding of the real world around our customers. Enabling them to see their dream pizza steaming right in front of them and viewed from any angle," said Gillespie. "Developed using the Unity cross-platform game engine, an engine more associated with gaming than mobile retail, the new Pizza Chef offers a high quality of realism in its images as well as incorporating gamification elements to further engage customers."
Like most fast food, pizza is a commodity. While people may claim to have their preferences, in general, there's really not much difference between Domino's, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's. So, with price, convenience, and quality being relatively indistinguishable, the bells and whistles of mobile apps can greatly influence a purchasing decision.
Augmented reality naturally becomes one of those differentiators. In fact, we've already seen Pizza Hut integrate augmented reality into its delivery experience. And, as far as visualizing food goes, we've seen similar attempts via regional burger chain Bareburger.
In the end, the entertainment and novelty of an AR experience like New Pizza Chef could actually make a difference in a customer's choice between all the usual pizza options. There's no word when or if the feature will be available to US customers, but the regional experiment fits with Domino's long history of deploying unique tech-powered marketing tactics in countries like Japan and Australia before potentially rolling them out worldwide.