“We noticed there was a large maker community that was creating these at-home bartenders and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if the bartender could actually talk back?’” says Emily Price, Deeplocal’s director of client services.
So the company’s team of engineers and designers built the Mocktails Mixer, a DIY robotic home bartender controlled by Google’s new voice-activated technology. Users can fill the small, boxy machine with a variety of ingredients and then request their favorite custom drinks.
It also lends a friendly ear.
“As this machine is making a drink, it’s making idle chitchat,” says Price.
She cites BarBot, a now defunct annual San Francisco cocktail party where hackers showed off their mechanical bartenders, robotic bartender projects on the hacker DIY website Instructables, and various Arduino-powered cocktail machines like “The Inebriator” and “Bar Mixvah” as inspirations for the Mocktails Mixer.
The invention recently debuted at the Google I/O conference in California, where the Deeplocal team used it to demonstrate one of the many possibilities for artificial intelligence (AI).
“This is just a fun experiment for the particular event to show off the capabilities and all of the different avenues that people can explore with the Assistant SDK,” says Price.
Fun experiment or not, Greg Baltus, chief technology officer at Deeplocal, believes the Mocktails Mixer offers a glimpse of a not-so-distant future where home environments become increasingly powered by smart systems.
“You’ll be able to talk directly to other devices through natural language, like your television or refrigerator or oven, and they will be able to understand you,” says Baltus.
Price adds that the Mocktail Mixer also serves to make AI less intimidating to the general public by showing how the technology can be deployed in practical ways. Deeplocal drives that point home by providing instructions on how to build the Mocktails Mixer yourself and integrate the Google Assistant SDK software.
“The unit we created is modular, so if people want to follow the instructions and make one at home, they can make it as large or as small as they like and mix and match any kind of ingredients that they like,” says Price.
But while the Mocktails Mixer meets all the requirements of a neighborhood bartender, Price says it could never replace a trip to your favorite watering hole.
“There’s always that philosophical question around AI, right?” says Price. “This is meant to feel localized for the at-home user. I think we all enjoy going to our local bar and enjoy that human contact. This is something fun for people who enjoy making things at home.”
To see the Mocktails Mixer in action, watch the video below, courtesy of Deeplocal: