The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – 02

I finished my first instalment of “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” with the promise to spend this second one with the Glenfiddich virtual reality whisky experience and how a Japanese e-commerce site allows customers to choose by aroma.

For the Glenfiddich virtual reality whisky experience we have to go to Singapore.

Glenfiddich virtual reality experience
In the Glenfiddich GTR area in select airports, visitors can enjoy a Cask Collection whisky tasting. They pick out the key tasting notes of each expression before putting on their VR headsets, at which point they are virtually transported into a recreation of Glenfiddich’s Warehouse 8 in Dufftown, Scotland.

The “Glenfiddich Virtual Infinity” launched at the TFWA conference in Singapore is an interactive virtual reality whisky tasting experience, created by Glenfiddich in collaboration with UK creative agency Purple Creative.

The tasting allows visitors to virtually discover the flavours in each of Glenfiddich’s three Cask Collection whiskies and write their own 3D tasting notes in a virtual world.
Purple Creative created the imagery for all three Cask Collection expressions by designing an abstract representation of the Solera Vat system. The HTC Vive was created in partnership with Wolf In Motion, a London-based VR design and production studio.

The HTC Vive offers a VR experience and has a lifelike and natural accuracy: your head and hands move with every tiny movement mapped in the virtual space. The headset is designed to utilise ‘room scale’ technology to turn a room into 3D space via sensors, with the virtual world allowing the user to navigate naturally, with the ability to walk around and use motion tracked handheld controllers to manipulate objects, interact with precision and experience environments.

The headset pairs 37 sensors pairing with the sensor boxes that track the movement and position of the user. HTC refers to this method as ‘Lighthouse’ tracking technology, because the boxes beam out guiding infrared light to the user.

The VR film flies the user through the skies of the Scottish countryside before sweeping into the distillery, where they travel past steaming copper pots and fermenters before dropping down into Glenfiddich warehouse 8 in Dufftown, Scotland, surrounded by oak casks and Solera vats. The whole tour is hosted by a Scottish guide and even includes the brand’s iconic stag.

In Glenfiddich’s warehouse 8 the Cask Collection whiskies are created in Solera Vats, three large bespoke oak vats, one for each of the range, where Brian Kinsman, the malt master, marries, mellows and blends small batches of Glenfiddich malts.

The three Solera Vats stand in front of the users. The users are then able to select a vat with their hand controllers and enter the world of that expression, where they are able to write and draw their own tasting notes in the air.
“The brush they ‘write’ with creates a ribbon effect that matches the colours and aesthetic of the beauty image. People can write above, below and all around themselves, walking through their 3D words. And they can delete their tasting notes using a scissor controller that cuts the ribbons and erases the script”, the company explained.

For Glenfiddich this project means that “VR is allowing us to interact with people in a whole new way, and whisky drinkers can express their tasting notes in a completely individual fashion and in a completely new medium”.

The production of the film involved photo-real 3D CGI, drone footage shot with image stabilisation tools and live action tracking camera shots composited into a CG environment. The project was filmed by Space in collaboration with production company Happy Finish at the Dufftown distillery.

A video trailer for the experience is available to view below.

Creative agency Space comments:
As polished as the experience will no doubt be, creating the VR was a painstaking process. From numerous takes whilst the actor tried to follow not only the script but also a map on the floor so his movement matched up with the imagery and footage. The production techniques are seriously high end and cutting edge including photo-real 3D computer-generated imagery (CGI), drone footage shot live on location at the Dufftown distillery and with cutting edge image stabilisation tools and live action tracking camera shots composited into a CG environment.

It’s worthwhile to fly to Singapore or look for it at any other important airport, to experience this innovation, but …..

Whisky, of course, is all about taste and aroma, as it is with every object in our lives. The only problem is that it’s impossible to transmit taste, aroma (odour, fragrance) through fibre cables or send it to a cloud for distribution to consumer. And still, they are two of our senses that weigh in heavily during our purchasing decision.

That’s why Glenfiddich had to organise a tasting fest at the airports with real people tasting real whisky to make their VR-experience viable.
This is a terrible limitation to e-commerce, as what you want to buy can’t be snuffed or sample tasted.
Translating and quantifying the level of taste and/or aroma into bits is a wish from heaven. Well, a Japanese company thinks it has found the answer.

Japanese choose by aroma
The Japanese company Aroma Bit, which designs and develops small odour-imaging sensors is in the final stages of testing what it claims to be the world’s first e-commerce website on which consumers can search and select products by aroma.

The products on the website will each carry their own aroma codes that link to an aroma-visualising smart label developed by Aroma Bit. The label sensor, when given a whiff of a product, will work alongside a smartphone app to provide a visual representation of the aroma.

The process allows people to “see the odour as if smelling it” and match up their favourite aromas with those of products in the store.

“Aroma code provides a new tool for communication and promotion that conveys the aroma of products, which embodies their uniqueness or characteristics, to consumers digitally, visually and intuitively”, according to the company, “which offers a new shopping experience and opportunity to discover products based on aroma, which was not possible in conventional e-commerce websites”.

Hisamitsu Coffee, which manufactures roasted beans under the Guild Coffee brand, has agreed to be the first store featured on Aroma Bit’s Milunio.com, where it will offer 15 varieties of coffee beans.

Milunio.com is currently only available in Japan, though Aroma Bit plans to expand it globally.

And it’s not only for the e-commerce websites. Aroma code is a smart label that visualizes product aroma as a digital pattern based on measurement with an odour visualization sensor. Products with similar aroma code patterns have similar aroma, and those with different patterns have different aroma. Aroma code is a ground breaking next-generation smart label that allows people to see the odour as if smelling it.

Brands can place aroma code on their products or indicate the code on product websites to provide consumers with an unprecedented way to visually and intuitively understand product odour and aroma.

The next step of course is an “aroma-box” in the kitchen, so that the consumer, who wants to order via internet, can get a real sniff of the aroma, using the aroma-code.

Hopefully the marketing boys and girls of brands used to implement meaningless “smart packaging”, are taking a page from the books of the above mentioned companies. Life of the consumer is getting much more exiting.
To be fair there are more than just the ones I highlighted here. I come back to that.

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