“Robots that mix drinks for you. What more do I need to say?” —juror Eric Karjaluoto
“Automation makes our lives easier, and this bit of automation makes our lives drunker. The robot bartenders created a fun environment that invited participation and paid that off with delicious cocktails.” —juror Jon Jackson
Overview: Introduced at the 2013 Google I/O conference, Makr Shakr uses robot barmen to mix drinks in crowd-sourced combinations. Through a downloadable app, users select the mix of ingredients, then watch as the cocktails are crafted by three robots and delivered via conveyor belt. Rather than trying to replace a bartender with a robot, Makr Shakr looks at how people might embrace the new possibilities offered by digital manufacturing—in this case, mechanical barmen—to help them collaborate and co-create.
•The display shows the queue of drinks in the works, the profiles of users and the mixture of ingredients in their drinks, as well as which cocktails and combinations are trending across the crowd.•Pentagram designed the identity, web/mobile application and data visualization for the project, which was developed by the MIT Senseable City Lab in collaboration with the Coca-Cola Company and Bacardi Rum.•The project is currently in development for its next phase and will launch on Quantum of the Seas, a “smart” cruise ship, in early 2015.
Comments by Ken Deegan:
What are the project’s core features? “Makr Shakr explores the dynamics of social creation and consumption. The project is about mixing technology with human interaction to look at how a group of people can be creative together. The interface gives users an opportunity to literally connect over drinks, to interact with and learn from each other. At the installation, each user’s Facebook or Twitter avatar became part of the data visualization displaying the orders. Drink orders are seen as patterns, and the data can be analyzed and visualized in different ways: by age and gender, for example, or by who likes what ingredients. Or it can be organized to show how seeing what others are drinking influences what we choose to drink, and so on.”
Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories from the creative process? “The identity was the key element that provided the basis for the rest of the user interface. The design of the app and identity uses a hexagon/honeycomb system that is both organic and mechanical and appears as a tessellating structure on screen. Once we had the hexagon symbol—inspired by the typography of the logo—we were able to build on it to create the user interface, the patterns, the grid system and everything else. Given our abbreviated schedule for the project, we had to make fast decisions. Using the hexagon shape helped make the decisions for us.”