Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Robot bartender creates crowd-sourced cocktails

The Makr Shakr can make any drink according to your recipe The Makr Shakr can make any drink according to your recipe
MIT makes robotic bartender
Makr Shakr takes orders via smartphone
Once live, interaction is the lab's aim
Experiment gets groups to co-create
Powerful technology now at your fingertips
Robots for everyone
Makr Shakr unveiled
  • MIT allows partygoers to control robot bartender using their cellphones
  • Lab wanted drinkers to collaborate via social media to make new cocktails
  • Scientists say making robots available to all via phones signals "third industrial revolution"

San Francisco (CNN) -- "Crowd control" took on a whole new meaning Wednesday night as a room full of partygoers were given power over a cocktail-making robot controlled by their smartphones.

Attendees at a party for the Google I/O Conference here were invited to send a drink recipe via a smartphone app to the Makr Shakr, a three-armed robot designed especially for the show. They could then interact with attendees of similar taste to collaboratively design their perfect drink via social media.

MIT's Senseable City Lab wanted to see what would happen when you let a mass of people take control of an industrial manufacturing machine.

Read: Ex-policeman builds robot from household goods

The idea, according to project leader Yaniv Turgeman, is to demonstrate how digital technology has the potential to take the power of factory robots away from big companies and into the hands of the people.

Turgeman said the team had the idea in January and hurriedly set about getting the arms -- based on the classic factory production-line robot -- programmed to gracefully slice a lemon, shake a cocktail shaker, pour liquids carefully and so on.

The team purposefully chose the look of the iconic orange industrial robot arm to make the point that big manufacturing technology was now becoming accessible to everyone.

"It's a metaphor," he said. "This is the third industrial revolution. People now have the power to control very powerful technology."

At the party, every time someone created a drink the recipe would go up on a big screen behind the bar and the crowd could see it and add their own changes to the recipe -- and try the drink.

This is the third industrial revolution. People now have the power to control very powerful technology
Yaniv Turgeman, MIT Senseable City Lab

"The point is to learn from one another, to design together," he said.

Turgeman said there was an emerging market for people who want to make things, a movement back to craft culture that takes advantage of modern technology -- sometimes referred to as the maker movement (hence the name of the robot). The movement espouses the DIY inventor or developer and promotes the sharing of free technology.

He said MIT's example of easy-access digital manufacturing could transform clothes making, furniture design -- whatever people wanted. Uses could range from manufacturers engaging focus groups in a much more hands-on way at an early stage of product development to mass customization or individual use of the machines.

Read: Print your own life-size robot for under $1,000

Jon Collins, research director at UK consultancy Inter Orbis, which specializes in the impact technology is having on society and business, said this was a model that was already working very well in web development.

"Design should take hours not weeks, with a maximum of customer interaction. It's not hard to imagine how that could be extended to creation of, in this case drinks, but also other objects, once 3-D printing is in the mix," he said.

"There's no reason at all why small-run manufacturing should not become a socially driven activity. Meanwhile it is very interesting to think how the Internet of Things - that is, devices and objects with built-in connectivity - can link to our ability to use applications and exchange information socially."

Turgeman added: "Before, to design, you generally had to be a designer or spend your whole life learning to be a master carver. This shifts things. The accessibility brings you back to a basic need to create. You can design, make and enjoy."

Part of complete coverage on
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
Forget wearable tech, embeddable implants are here. Learn more about the pioneers who are implanting devices into their bodies.
March 31, 2014 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
iRobot, creators of vacuuming robot Roomba reveal how they learned from secret experiments -- in space travel, minefields, and toys.
March 28, 2014 -- Updated 1623 GMT (0023 HKT)
A light-bulb glowing in middle of a room with no wires attached. "It's the future," says Dr Katie Hall.
March 3, 2014 -- Updated 1626 GMT (0026 HKT)
Knee replacements that encourage cells to regrow could soon be manufactured -- by spiders. Find out how.
February 14, 2014 -- Updated 1403 GMT (2203 HKT)
Meet Chuck Hull: the humble American engineer who changed the world of manufacturing.
February 6, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
The key to self-knowledge? Or just the return of the phony "mood ring"? Check out our top mood-sensing technology in development.
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 2201 GMT (0601 HKT)
One of the Games' most impressive spectacles has nothing to do with sports. It's visitors' own faces, rendered on a giant morphing wall.
February 4, 2014 -- Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT)
Inside the incredible cardboard Boeing 777 that's taken one man 10,000 hours to build.
January 30, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
We climb inside the Aouda.X: an "intelligent" spacesuit designed for the most treacherous environment yet to be encountered by a human.
January 24, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
The world's fastest supercar might soon be electric. The Rimac Concept_One is the Tesla-beating electric car, capable 300 kph.
January 8, 2014 -- Updated 2045 GMT (0445 HKT)
Is that Tupac and Sinatra performing live? How did that happen?! Meet Eyeliner: the optical system that can bring the dead back to life.
January 15, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
From wearable technology to space tourism: we take a look through some of the most ground-breaking developments of the year ahead.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the past 12 months, several ventures have managed to raise over $1 million. Check out the projects that joined the Kickstarter millionaires' club.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1002 GMT (1802 HKT)
Watch digital artist Kyle Lambert's stunning photo-realistic iPad paintings emerge from a blank screen.