James & Wells collaborates on New Zealand’s first virtual drink

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Is virtual reality the new mixer? Guests of James & Wells’ recent ‘Eats & Geeks’ event might just have been the first to find out.

‘Eats & Geeks’ is an annual gathering of innovative Kiwi companies operating in the food and beverage sector. From plant-based burgers and sausages, to sheep milk gin and vodka, the future of food and beverage is happening right here in our backyards.

This year, the organisers wondered what the future of networking might be and how technology could impact the traditional role of food and beverage in social contexts. Working with partners Lion Ventures, and DOTDOT, a virtual experience was created for guests to try.

Participants wore a virtual reality headset and held a bottle of Höpt soda encased in a trackable sleeve. Starting in a white room, with only the bottle visible, each sip taken filled the virtual environment with vibrant 3D images and sounds that represented the flavours, textures and experience of the soda.

Kate Stevenson from DOTDOT said, “It was a real thrill to bring the flavours and sensations of the Höpt Pink Guava and Rose to life and let people control their experience through drinking the actual soda – mixed reality with a mixer!”

As New Zealand’s champions of innovation, James & Wells helps businesses to own and control their brands and inventions both here, and internationally. The firm’s dedicated Food & Beverage Innovation team were proud to showcase a fascinating range of companies marketing truly innovative products such as Isocream’s hemp protein ice cream, Primal Future’s cricket corn chips, Te Mana lamb – which is raised at high altitudes for superior meat, and a drink mimicking the relaxing properties of cannabis from Grassene.

James & Wells’ Head of Food & Beverage Innovation team Carrick Robinson said “This event grows every year and we’re constantly amazed at the breadth and variety of innovation in this sector. This year we welcomed our first client from the Chatham Islands – Go Wild, which has created a freeze-dried honey product. Virtual reality drinks may not be mainstream, but it was exciting and fun to craft a new kind of experience.”

Bringing together Lion Ventures and DOTDOT at this year’s ‘Eats & Geeks’ gave guests a glimpse of how innovation happens in reality. We think the future for New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem remains as bright and tasty as ever.

Other partners for the event included the NZ Food Awards and TIN.