By Zak Stone
At the Milan Design Week, furniture usually take center stage. But lucky for booze-loving attendees this year, the fair's definition of "design" is broad enough to include cocktails, made at, perhaps, the world's most technologically advanced bar.
Called the MakrShakr, the project is a collaboration between MIT Senseable City Lab and Carlo Ratti Associati, an Italian architecture firm. Mustachioed mixologists have been replaced by a team of theree robots, capable of making millions and millions--or, to get mathematical, a googol (that's 1 followed by 100 zeroes)--of drink recipes, created on the spot by the bar's patrons. "Makr Shakr aims to show the 'Third Industrial Revolution' paradigm through the simple process design-make-enjoy, and in just the time needed to prepare a new cocktail," explains the project website.
Design fair attendees who need to take the edge off will first download an app to create their order (and peruse the recipes that other users have come up with). "The cocktail is then crafted by three robotic arms, whose movements reproduce every action of a barman--from the shaking of a Martini to the muddling of a Mojito, and even the thin slicing of a lemon garnish," according to a press release.
If those motions seem particularly graceful, it's because they were inspired by ballet dancer Roberto Bolle, whose "movements were filmed and used as input for the programming of the Makr Shakr robots."
While drinks designed by bar-goers, not experts, may not be as perfectly balanced as a craft cocktail, they're extremely precise. The design system monitors exactly how much booze each patron is consuming, which, in theory, could let the robot-bartenders know when it's time to cut off designers who have thrown back a few too many.
Check out the video here.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.