For decades, society has been both fascinated and fearful of the concept of robots replacing humans in the workplace. In recent times, that very notion has begun to take root in reality. One area that has adapted certain mechanized innovations is the bar industry. For example, there are modern wine locales that have computerized systems which serve guests glass after glass without the assistance of human interaction. Touch screens abound in restaurants and lounges around the globe, offering quick and purportedly easy methods of acquiring food and drink. To continue this ongoing, not-yet pervasive trend, there is now a new robotic invention that may have mixologists a worried over their job security. Yu Jiang Tham, an Apple employee, has just created Bar Mixvah, a computerized cocktail maker which looks to replace actual bartenders with just a few touches on an iPad.
On the heels of Party Robotics’ over-the-top Bartendro, unveiled last year at a whopping consumer cost of almost four thousand dollars, Tham has designed his own Internet-controlled drink slinger, using an Arduino Nano microcontroller (also a fairly new technological device) and a 3D printer. Tham has provided instructions on just how anyone can make this fairly “simple” machine for under $200. While Bartendro can involve up to fifteen different bottles of cocktail ingredients, the Bar Mixvah seems to have a slightly less complicated design, utilizing about five bottles at a time. Perhaps this difference alone may make the project a little less daunting for the drink enthusiast. Still, it may not be easy for anyone who doesn’t have microcontroller training, or a background in computer engineering to put together a robot that serves perfectly proportioned drinks.
Once the Bar Misvah is assembled (good luck), all one needs is a device that connects to the Internet, which then relays the drink order to the Arduino microcontroller. The microcontroller is connected to a series of peristaltic pumps which ultimately suck liquid from the necessary bottles and combine them into one glass for, hopefully, a perfectly balanced cocktail. The Bar Mixvah, which can replace a bartender in one’s own home, was designed by Tham as a way to become familiar with nano microcontroller technology. It seems he has accomplished that mission.
While Tham’s robot may have been a side effect of gaining a greater understanding of modern technology, it is very possible the Bar Mixvah will become a product refined by some major corporation and sold to the public for even less than what it would cost the average consumer to build. Only time will tell if such an invention will take off like the electric can opener or vacuum sealable, plastic bags – which certainly utilized technology intended for greater tasks (one hopes).
For now, the Bar Mixvah, with its capabilities to one day replace bartenders, symbolizes a step forward in Internet-controlled machines. Whether used by companies or the individual, such technology provides an odd and fantastical vision of the future. Just what can and will be manipulated with the simple touch of a button or screen? How easy will it become for the lay person to apply this innovation to their everyday life? Finally, from what great distances will humankind be able to steer an outcome of its own design?
Opinion by Josh Taub