Virtual wine shopping — that’s what’s on the near horizon for Brock’s CCOVI. A recent grant of nearly $1 million from the CFI will help fund the $2.4 million project. The goal is to build a mediated reality wine laboratory in which researchers can study how factors of an environment affect customers’ consumer choices regarding wines.
This laboratory will be the first of it’s kind anywhere in the world. Researchers will be able to control all aspects of a typical environment in which one would be purchasing wine. Through the use of either virtual reality or augmented reality, researchers will be able to change several aspects of the environment: they can change the music, the smells, and what the consumer sees in order to study these factors’ impacts on consumers’ wine choices. Research has shown that background music affects consumer choices in wine, and the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is hoping to expand on these types of findings and research. Debbie Inglis, director of the CCOVI, explained the vision in an interview with Larry Fedoruk on CKTB Radio.
“People enjoy wines in different environments, and it could be a different experience if you’re in an LCBO outlet versus if you’re sitting down enjoying wine in your living room, and through the technology that we’ll have available, we’ll be able to manipulate that environment and see what the impact is,” she says.
The Canadian Foundation of Innovation (CFI) is invested in helping Canadian colleges, universities, research hospitals, and non-profit research organizations carry out high quality research. Their vision is to see Canadian researchers lead the world in contributions to competitiveness, prosperity, and quality of life. Brock’s vision for the first ever mediated reality wine laboratory certainly fit these goals, and as such the CFI has generously donated $960,000 to the project. This donation was first announced on October 12.
The grant will be put towards purchasing technology and state of the art equipment for the lab, including gas and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry machines and enhanced fermentation tanks. These pieces of equipment will help researchers in determining the correct temperatures and climates in which to make wine, as well as track certain chemical levels in wine which are important to its taste.
“This CFI grant is an incredible opportunity to support Canadian research that allows us to be at the forefront of the research stage and have this international impact,” said Inglis to The Brock News.
The lab will be known as R3CL, which stands for “augmented reality, virtual reality, sensory reality consumer laboratory.” Augmented reality includes minor changes of the environment, such as projecting different labels onto bottles of wine that will be in the space. On the other hand, virtual reality will be used in the form of goggles that people will wear, through which they will perceive whatever reality is programmed by the researchers. The CCOVI hopes that their findings will help in leading consumers to domestic wines.
“In Ontario, when we look at the stats of people’s buying choices, we find that only 40 per cent of the time do consumers actually choose domestic wine, which means 60 per cent of the time they’re choosing foreign imported wine, and we want to help the industry change that dynamic,” says Inglis. “We want to make sure we are thoroughly understanding the consumer, and sharing that with the industry so they can use that to their advantage.”
The CCOVI is renowned for its economic impact on Ontario’s grape and wine industry. In 2014-15, it was responsible for creating 307 jobs and contributing $91 million to Ontario’s economy. The program is recognized internationally and offers a large array of programs and services to support the wine industry in Ontario.
It is expected that the research lab will be ready for use sometime within six months to one year from now.