Making a cocktail can involve pouring, measuring, blending, and mixing. Or you could fill up a glass with ice, scroll through a drink menu, and press a button.
The artificially intelligent Monsieur robotic bartender, which looks like a fancy mini-fridge, is the creation of Barry Givens, co-founder and CEO. After college, as his taste in drinks got a little more sophisticated, Givens struggled to find consistently good cocktails. So he did what any mechanical engineer would do, he built a solution.
The Monsieur uses an Android tablet as its interface, from which you can view and order from an extensive drink menu. You also can order drinks through an Android and iOS app.
The tablet also controls the mechanics."We use peristaltic pumps," Givens explains. "There's a metering pump, which allows you to pour down to a milliliter of accuracy. We use an ultrasonic sensor to sense if there's a cup in place or not. The machine would not pour without a cup in place. We use thermoelectric coolers for the refrigeration portion."
But what sets the Monsieur apart is artificial intelligence, Givens says.
"The bartender actually learns you and learns your lifestyle," he says. "It learns your tastes. It learns your favorite sports teams. It learns when you come home from work. That's what other robotic bartenders haven't been able to provide."
As an example, let's say you come home from work every day at 5 p.m., and the Monsieur, using a Wi-Fi connection at your home, detects when you come home. This becomes a pattern. One day you work late and come home at 9:30 p.m. Detecting your late return, Monsieur will offer to make your drink a double instead of a single because you had a long day at work.
The Monsieur comes in several sizes to accommodate home and commercial use. The smallest holds four bottles of alcohol and the largest holds 16. The price ranges from $1,500 to $4,000.
Givens says the company is focusing on getting the Monsieur into places where a bartender may not be present, like arena suites, nightclubs, hotels, and people's homes. In the future, he envisions the machine in more public places, like airports.
"Right now, you can buy headphones in a vending machine, and we plan to put cocktails in the same environment," he says.
Monsieur wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign in November. Most of the units ordered are expected to ship this spring.