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Coke and McDonald's Are Now in the Virtual Reality Business

Both companies have new packaging that transforms into VR headsets


The world is still disappointingly lacking in Jetsons-esque flying cars, but the future is undoubtedly here: Giant food companies are now pushing virtual reality along with their sugary sodas and chicken nuggets.

Coca-Cola has unveiled a new design for its retail packaging in which the cardboard can be folded into virtual reality glasses designed to be used with a smartphone. While the packaging hasn't yet hit stores, VR is something the company has been working on for a while: It previously dipped its toe into the VR world at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where fans strapped on VR goggles and were "transported" from the locker room to playing on the field.

Meanwhile, McDonald's own foray into virtual reality headsets is already on the market— in Sweden, at least. The fast-food corporation is offering a limited run of "Happy Goggles," VR headsets that are made from folding Happy Meal boxes. As The Verge explains, "The Happy Goggles are formed by tearing a portion of the specially designed Happy Meal box into a foldable outer shell." Then a pair of included VR lenses are inserted into the cardboard form, which, like Google Cardboard, is designed to be used with a smartphone. Per Adweek, the chain created a skiing game called Slope Stars to pair with the VR headset.

Building a virtual reality headset out of cardboard and your iPhone may seem rather clunky, but it might be precisely the approach that gets people to widely adopt the technology: "Consumers today are much more hesitant to go out and initially purchase a VR headset in order to try the technology," Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of VR platform YouVisit, tells Retail Dive. "By enabling consumers to instead view VR experiences through their mobile device, we are able to completely lower the barriers to adoption because they are already comfortable and familiar with mobile technology."

The potential uses for virtual reality go far beyond games and immersive sports experiences: A team of engineers and chefs called Project Nourished is working on VR technology to simulate gastronomic experiences, meaning — at least in theory — users could have the experience of eating a steak without all the calories and bloodshed.

Watch how to construct Coca-Cola and McDonald's respective VR headsets, below: