Insta360 Imagine you’re walking through a grove of orange trees in Southern California. You pick an orange off the tree, peel it and the smell and taste of citrus wafts around you. Now imagine rather than holding the real fruit, you’re actually experiencing it through a VR headset hooked up with tubes of chemicals.

That’s what Virtual TasteTrek? Citrus delivers—a Insta360 virtual food experience combining the sight, smell and taste of citrus through a VR headset. Not only can you see the citrus groves in 360-degrees around you, you can actually smell and taste the flavors of citrus.

Virtual TasteTrek? Citrus may seem futuristic, but it is already helping food and beverage companies develop flavors faster and remotely. Givaudan, a Swiss manufacturer and global leader in creating custom flavors and fragrances, cooperated with Groove Jones, an award-winning creative and technology studio, in creating the experience.

Insta360 Virtual food adventure transports customers to citrus groves
Each year Givaudan invites small groups of customers to take part in a TasteTrek?—a global food journey to discover new ingredients and varietals.

For the citrus group, customers usually travel to the University of California Riverside (UCR) to visit the Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection. This collection contains more than 1,000 varieties of citrus, including grapefruits, lemons, oranges, kumquats, and more. Givaudan’s clients who are looking to develop new citrus scents and flavors can visit UCR’s collection to better understand the citrus market. But busy schedules and geographical constraints sometimes make it difficult for Givaudan to offer the experience to all its customers. Plus, current COVID-19 travel restrictions make it impossible for visitors to come from overseas. Enter Virtual TasteTrek? Citrus. This immersive virtual food adventure uses virtual reality technology to transport customers to the UCR groves. Combining sight, sound, and smell, the experience enables users to learn about the citrus market landscape and co-create their own flavors. The experience takes users through an interactive 360-degree virtual tour of the Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection at UCR. The Groove Jones team created a custom application that runs on Oculus Go headsets and a desktop platform which allows multi-users to experience it together.

The App communicates with Givaudan’s proprietary Virtual Aroma Synthesizer? (VAS) technology, which generates the flavors. Through the hose system connected to the headset, the user can smell and taste the citrus they are viewing. Givaudan researchers painstakingly analyzed a variety of fruit samples to recreate the flavors in the system.