Endless beer on tap from smart glass

A smart glass that watches what you drink and orders more is just one technology that could enhance the life of the pub-goer

Making the most of your time in the pub could be a lot easier in future, thanks to a smart glass that watches the level of liquid and automatically alerts the bar staff when it gets dangerously low. The device, prototyped by Mitubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, uses a transparent conductor around the sides of the glass that detects changes in capacitance caused by the lowering refreshment within.

When this reaches a preset level, a radio-frequency ID chip in the base of the glass emits a signal that is picked up by sensors in the establishment's tables: these are networked to the bar, where attentive staff immediately respond to the imminent emergency and recharge the depleted receptacle. RFID chips are currently under development by many companies and research organisations, and promise to bring this sort of intelligence to a very wide variety of everyday objects.

This is far from the only technology MERL is developing with applications for the social drinker. Projects that turn circular tables into ad-hoc shared desktop environments will enable numerous pub games, the Voice Puppet that animates any image to your voice will let you send a video conference call home "from the office" explaining why you're late, artificial intelligence video systems that determine gender will help avoid embarrassing mistakes towards the end of an evening, while the Personal Digital Historian (PDH) -- a system that collates your own sound, picture and video files -- will serve to remind the over-refreshed of what they actually got up to thereafter.

However, there is no sign of a good enough artificial intelligence that can talk the determined out of consuming too much, and no project underway to locate and recruit the attentive bar staff necessary to make all of the above a real proposition.


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