Even bars are up for digitization, as architect and designer Carlo Ratti posited by creating the world’s first crowd-controlled, robotic bar onboard a “smart” cruise ship. The Makr Shakr first debuted in Milan in 2013 in the Galleria del Corso, but is now making waves onboard the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas.
The innovative mixology system, stationed at the ship’s Bionic Bar, not only mimics the gestures of a bartender with a pulse, but enables patrons to create personalized cocktail recipes through—what else—a mobile app, transforming libations into a crowdsourced experience where users can rate and weigh in on one another’s concoctions.
“Makr Shakr is a great example of how robotic technologies are changing the interaction between people and products, which is something we have been examining in great depth,” said Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab.
Nearly limitless combinations for alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks are possible through the app, according to Ratti. Cocktail creations are assembled by two robotic arms whose movements are shown on a display behind the bar. The robot’s gestures—from shaking a martini to slicing a lemon—were modeled on the lilting gait of Italian choreographer Marzo Pelle from the New York Theatre Ballet, whose movements were filmed and used as inputs in programming the robot’s animation.
Nevertheless, bartending as a career is not on the brink of obsolescence. “Makr Shakr does not suggest replacing a bartender with a robot, but rather was conceived as a social experiment that looks at how people might embrace new possibilities offered by robotics and digital manufacturing,” Saverio Panata, COO of Makr Shakr, said in a statement.
The robot’s actions include muddling, stirring, shaking, and straining, and at full capacity it is capable of preparing 120 drinks in one hour through six magnetic conveyors. “Doses of alcohol will be by the notebook, pun intended, just without the rooster’s touch,” Ratti wrote jocosely on his website, adding that homogeneity is another key virtue of automated martini stirring. Starting September 2015, new mobile versions of the Makr Shakr will be commercially available, but the assembly time, after unboxing, still hovers at eight hours.
“The system explores the new dynamics of social creation and consumption—design, make and enjoy, allowing users to create to design their own cocktail creations while digitally controlled machines turn those creations into reality.” – Carlo Ratti