Have you ever spent time waiting to get the attention of the bartender at a busy bar by using various hand signals, forced eye contact, or waving your cash in the air? Apparently everyone has their own strategy for getting their drink quick, and now a group of German researchers at Bielefeld University are tapping into those techniques to create a robotic bartender that will not only recognize those signals but also serve customers in a more fair order.
In order to figure out what sets people who want to be served apart from those just hanging around the bar, these scientists conducted a study of bar behavior in Germany and Scotland and found that a lot of it has to do with how and where you happen to be standing. According to their study, 90 percent of customers looking to place an order tend to directly face the bar. 1 in 15 happen to look at their wallet, and less than 1 out of every 25 used some sort of gesture to signal the bartender.
Now these researchers are taking this data to create a robotic bartender named James, after the EU-funded project Joint Action in Multimodal Embodied Systems, which will hopefully offer more timely service in busy bars. With a tablet computer for its head, a simple cartoonish face is displayed and is designed to make direct eye contact with the customer.
It’s not clear how James will handle fulfilling the drink orders, but in its current form it does have an arm and a four-fingered hand to serve the customer. While it is an interesting concept, a robot may not be able to completely replace the functionality and emotional response of a live person behind the bar. However, it may be able to help out when things get busy.
We’ve included a video about the creation of James in its current form below.