Givaudan’s Virtual TasteTrek recreates sights, sounds and smells of UCR citrus groves

[I’m always looking for interesting new applications of presence to share here, and this one definitely qualifies (plus it involves my undergraduate alma mater). The story is from the University of California, Riverside’s Inside UCR and is followed by more details from the website of Groove Jones, the creator of the Virtual TasteTrek Citrus experience. The Givaudan website includes even more information and features a 2:31 minute promotional video and a 3:47 minute 360 degree interactive video (also available via YouTube here and here). –Matthew]

Givaudan brings its Virtual Taste Trek to Riverside

Virtual reality goggles and scent tubes recreate a stroll through UCR’s citrus groves

Holly Ober
February 11, 2020

Imagine enjoying the sights and scents of a springtime stroll across the UC Riverside campus and through the Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection, except you’re sitting at a desk. Wearing virtual reality goggles. And inhaling artificial aromas carefully constructed to replicate the real thing.

Givaudan, the flavor and scent company that donated $3.5 million to protect UC Riverside’s precious citrus collection from the citrus disease huanglongbing, brought a cutting-edge sensory tool to Riverside last week. It consists of virtual reality googles attached to a computer and a chest containing tubes of scent chemicals. As the user watches Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection director Tracy Kahn take a Givaudan representative through the groves, scent drifts from a small vent near their nose whenever a fruit is cut open.

“It smells great and you can tell whenever you’re smelling something different,” Kahn said. “You can smell the campus in the introduction and can tell they filmed it in the spring.”

Givaudan brings clients who want them to develop new citrus scents and flavors to UCR’s citrus collection. For clients who can’t come to Riverside, the “Virtual Taste Trek” recreates the experience of walking through the collection to discover the scents and tastes they’ll commission the company to create. Faculty and administrators from UC Riverside’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences got to take the Virtual Taste Trek at last week’s event.

To develop the experience, Givaudan researchers took a variety of fruit samples in UCR’s collection and analyzed the specific compounds that give each its distinctive scent. The same esters, aldehydes, and other molecules scent and flavor all types of citrus, as well as Givaudan’s flavors and scents.

The Virtual Taste Trek contains 13 of the 1,000 citrus varieties found at UC Riverside, though that’s enough to discover a wide range of scent. The dominant and underlying notes for each type of fruit appear on the virtual reality display. Users can dial various components up or down, adding more cinnamon notes, for example, or toning down the fresh notes. The corresponding mixture is pumped from the tubes, allowing the user to create and test new scents on the spot.

[From the Groove Jones website, where the original includes 11 images and the 2:31 minute promotional video]

Givaudan Virtual TasteTrek® Citrus – VR Tool for Citrus Flavour Creation

VR for Business – Givaudan Virtual TasteTrek® Citrus – Taking Flavour Creation to the Next Level

February 12, 2020

Givaudan is the global leader in the creation of flavours and fragrances. In close collaboration with food, beverage, consumer product and fragrance partners, Givaudan develops tastes and scents that delight consumers the world over. Headquartered in Switzerland with local presence in over 180 locations, the Company has almost 14,900 employees worldwide and has achieved sales of CHF 6,2 billion in 2019.

The Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection at University of California Riverside (UCR) contains more than 1,000 varieties of citrus. Each year the company invites small groups of customers to the citrus groves, to discover the collection. This is the TasteTrek® experience. But busy schedules and geographical constraints sometimes make it difficult to offer the experience to all customers. […]

To overcome this, Givaudan brought on Groove Jones, to help create Virtual TasteTrek® Citrus, an immersive adventure that uses virtual reality to transport customers to the UCR groves. Combining sight, sound and smell, this truly surprising experience enables users to learn about the citrus market landscape and co-create their own flavours.

The experience takes users through a virtual tour of the Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection at UCR. Created from the combination of 360° virtual reality videos and Givaudan’s proprietary Virtual Aroma Synthesizer® (VAS) technology, Virtual TasteTrek® Citrus is a revolutionary tool with both educational and inspirational applications.

With a large selection of educational content, users can explore the groves while developing their expertise on various topics, such as the origins of citrus, its different varieties and sensory attributes, and the challenges faced by the citrus market.

Beyond education, Virtual TasteTrek® Citrus is also about sparking inspiration: during the experience, users can sample selected flavours, increase or decrease key notes and start co-creating their own flavours. The ability to provide the virtual grove experience while engaging the users’ olfactory senses and their own creativity makes this technology one-of-a-kind.

“Experiencing first-hand some of the unique and surprising aroma profiles the fruits have to offer helps our customers unleash their creativity” says Dawn Streich, Global Product Manager Citrus for Givaudan.

When viewers first enter the experience, they are brought into a futuristic hub nestled above the University of California Riverside citrus groves. From there, a simple server interface guides users through a 360° introduction video that highlights what they will experience in the grove.

The tour is led by Dr. Tracy Kahn, curator of The Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection and Givaudan flavourist Geoff Marshall-Hill.

To make these videos uniquely come to life, Groove Jones utilized a drone and an RC rover system with the Insta360 Pro to capture cinematic, stereoscopic views around and above the groves at UCR.

Bringing the system together was a unique challenge for Groove Jones. We needed to synchronize multiple Oculus Gos or Oculus Quest systems with Givaudan’s unique MiniVAS technology through a networked PC that was intuitive for any team member to set up and use with their client.

The tools are being used in multiple countries across the globe.

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