Introducing the iPub: London boozer serves beer with iPads

Introducing the iPub: London boozer serves beer with iPads

Summary: A pub in Southwark has installed iPads with custom-built software to cut ordering time for customers. The Robot Pub Group now hopes to expand its concept to other venues.


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  • The Thirsty Bear pub in Southwark, London has installed iPads to speed up the ordering process for its customers.

    The pub — or iPub, if you will — has 15 tables with an iPad attached. After getting a magnetic swipe card from the bar, customers can buy beer via the tablet, and then pour it themselves from taps set up on their table.

    The touchscreen menu can also be used to order other types of drink and food from the kitchen, as well as select songs on the pub jukebox.

    The iPads have access to the internet for when chatting begins to pall, and a pub-quiz program.

    Phil Neale, operations director for the Robot Pub Group, explained that he and his friends dreamt up the concept simply to cut the queuing time in a bar.

    "We came up with the taps-on-tables idea, but then you've got people who want to order other drinks. So we thought of some kind of touchscreen system," he said.

    This was before the iPad was even released; once Apple's tablet came along, they realised it would make the ideal delivery mechanism. The group now claims it's the first in the world to marry self-service beer taps with tablets.

    Image credit: Jon Yeomans

  • Food and drink orders are relayed to staff via Wi-Fi to iPhones strapped on their arms.

    The Thirsty Bear currently has 15 customer iPads, 12 of them on tables with beer taps. All the tablets are first-generation iPads running custom-made software, though Neale says the pub is upgrading to the iPad 2, and the company is looking into other tablet types for portable use.

    "The new version we're working on is going to be HTML5 so it'll work on any tablet," he said.

    Robot Pub Group plans to release an 'e-menu', a touchscreen menu card that can be passed around.

    "The upfront costs of that are much cheaper and we'll probably need more of them, so that would lend itself to a cheaper tablet," Neale explained, adding that Google's Nexus 7 is one device that might work for the e-menu.

    Image credit: Jon Yeomans

Topics: Tablets, Apple, United Kingdom, After Hours

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  • cool

    That is so cool!
  • What kind of sick mind...

    ...would replace a cute beer maid with this?
    • Don't you read ZDNet?

      I'm sure that people like Robert Hahn, CaviarBlack, seanconnery, and msalzberg would be more turned on by an iPad than a cute beer maid, at least if we go by what those people post.
    • Not Me

      I'd take the St. Pauli girl EVERY time. There is no Cherry 2000.
  • Control panels

    There are probably hundreds of devices out there that use custom-designed microprocessor-and-display modules as control panels... everything from machine tools to medical equipment. All of those things are low volume and hence expensive.

    This sort of thing happened with PCs early on: the standardized low-cost PC replaced all sorts of custom-designed microprocessor controllers in a wide variety of applications.

    Tablets will be made in such volumes that the same thing will happen with all these touch-screen control panels. I doubt that iPads are going to keep much of this business. An OEM version that can be built into some other piece of equipment will end up winning most of this business. Guys like Asus and even 'white box' manufacturers will win this segment.
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: I'm sure they are good Pub owners but

    Not good businessmen when it comes to tech buying. IPAD is extreme overkill for that limited task
  • iPubs already exists¡

    Hi, iPubs, the pubs network, already exists.
    I'm the CEO, for the moment we're only in Spain.
    Kind regards¡
  • Does it have an icon

    for "Four pints of lager and a packet of crisps please!"
  • Someone just swiped my drink

  • the bike rack outside will

    be full of fixies while inside the customers in their tight jeans, checkered shirts fake glasses and grandpa hats with crappy tattoos will be ordering some strange manderin and grape microbrewery cider over ice while being ironic and ordering their drinks on an ipad..
    what a really bad idea this is its rather pointless, just get up out of your seat, go to the bar wait a min then get a real drink like an ale, chat to the barman then go and sit down and munch some pork crackling.
    ipad in a bar nothing more then an expensive bear mat
    • hahaha

      bear mat i meant beer mat, i wonder what a bear mat looks like?
      Grow up men be a real man, no man orders their beer on a gadget. The pub is s British social institution, I want a dimpled glass with a handle, no strange fruity lagers or alcho pops and a white wine spritzer for the lady.
      1 Friday night and the ipads will be nicked.
      • I wonder

        how long it takes to flush those pipes out, as if you have a network of pipes snaking everywhere they are going to get manky..also how good a hack could it be to break the system and get beer for free im sure someone will do it..
  • ...getting a magnetic swipe card from the bar...

    Oh lordy, how secure is THAT in a busy pub?

    Those things can be duplicated with a laptop and a reader in seconds... The pub probably wont get ripped off, but the customers will.