There will be a lot of beer to taste at the KLCC Microbrew Festival this Friday and Saturday. But only one of the ales will be poured out of a robot's nose. LagerBot which will be dispensing at the Ninkasi booth at the Brewfest.
Erikson: "I'm Erik Erikson. I'm a software engineer at 3Cinteractive. A company in downtown Eugene."
Davis: "My name's Mark Davis. I'm a managing member over at CodeChops co-working space in Eugene."
Erikson and Davis join me in the offices of 3-C-interactive in the Woolworth building downtown. They developed LagerBot with their colleague Liz Martin. Erikson explains:
Erikson: "Lager-Bot is a beer-pouring device with a personality."
And then it connects to the internet to figure out if you can pour beer or not based on an RFID enabled mug."
RFID is radio-frequency identification. Erikson says the bot keeps track of how much you drink. That makes it ideal for a shared keg situation. Mark Davis:
Davis: "Erik and I were working at CodeChops, co-working space, where there's a shared keg there. And we used to pass the hat every time the keg ran out. But sometimes we'd pass the hat and people would say, hey I only got a beer. Or some people would sheepishly put in $5 when you knew that they were drinking more than that. And we were wondering to ourselves, if only there was a way to know who had drank what portion of the keg, we would know exactly how much they'd have to contribute for the next one."
The LagerBot is a black rectangular box which sits on top of a keg refrigerator.
Erikson: "LagerBot has 2 eyes and a mouth that are in LED matrixes. But he has a very cute expression on his face. He's blinking a lot and looking around. He doesn't frown very often. Only when he can't find the internet. That's when he frowns. And every so often if you're really lucky, he'll wink at you."
Davis shows me how it works:
Davis: "Okay. So here we have a magic mug. It has an RFID chip in it. And then what we do is we put it up against LagerBot's belly. He thinks about who you are. He's looking up in the cloud. He recognizes you. And now you can pour a beer."
LagerBot will be at the Ninkasi booth at the KLCC microbrew festival.
[McDonald] "Oh, he blinked."
Davis: "He likes you."