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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  • 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

  • Above, the touchscreen food menu includes the option to build your own burger.

    While at present the system uses magnetic swipe cards that customers can buy from behind the bar, soon the group will be rolling out RFID cards that work a little bit like London Underground's Oyster cards. People can touch in when they want to order a drink, and touch out again.

    "The advantages of that is that if you've got a big group, people coming and going, and one person doesn't want to have the tab, everyone can basically have their own tab," Neale said. "Similarly, if you want to move round the venue: a lot of people will go over to a different table to pour their beer. The RFID will be a lot easier for that."

    Image credit: Jon Yeomans

  • Neale admitted there had been some teething problems with the iPad rollout. The Wi-Fi network was not initially strong enough to cope with all the orders flying back and forth, though this was fixed with a new set of access points.

    The RFID cards should fix a number of nagging problems with magnetic cards, according to Neale. Somewhat surprisingly, none of the iPads have yet broken down due to beer being spilt over them.

    Image credit: Jon Yeomans

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Topics: Tablets, Apple, United Kingdom, After Hours

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13 comments
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  • cool

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

    ...would replace a cute beer maid with this?
    jvitous
    • 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.
      toddbottom3
    • Not Me

      I'd take the St. Pauli girl EVERY time. There is no Cherry 2000.
      benched42
  • 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
    edkollin
  • iPubs already exists¡

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

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

    .
    jorwell
  • 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
    eatingacheesepastieforlunch
    • 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.
      eatingacheesepastieforlunch
      • 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..
        eatingacheesepastieforlunch
  • ...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.
    SiO2