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A brainwave-scanning headset allows the wearer to concentrate and meditate their way to the perfect drink.

Abbey White
February 27, 2018

Robot bartenders—long seen as more of a gimmick or novelty idea—are steadily gaining both attention and traction. A Doctor Who-inspired cocktail-making robot made its debut during last year’s London Design Festival while Monsieur, the company behind a more scalable artificially intelligent robot bartender, recently raised an additional $2 million for what could be described as a cocktail vending machine of sorts. Even beer goliath Anheuser-Busch revealed it was testing I-TAP, a hands-free beer dispensing system that uses preset portion-controlled cups, at its St. Louis-based research and development draught room. But a YouTuber has found a different kind of way to automate the drink-making process, and much of it relies on human response.

Created by Robert Prest, this new barbot isn’t as gussied up as some of its brethren. However, the upgrade to his previously completed grandfather clock cocktail robot—which dispenses beverages with up to four different spirits and four mixers and takes orders over voice, keyboard, or web-controls—integrates individual desire and control more fully into its system. Instead of simply walking up, selecting a drink and watching a robot pour one out, the Barbot 4 comes with a custom-made mindwave reading headset. Prest used the Mindflex EEG toy—which clips to your ear lobes and aligns a metal forehead sensor just above your left eyebrow—to pick up brainwaves from the wearer, which are then processed two ways: as concentration and meditation.

After doing a bit of careful hacking, the YouTuber found a way to retrieve these two “values” and, using Bluetooth technology, designed them to be sent to the Barbot control system. Concentrate hard enough and you can cycle through the robotic bartender’s drink selection before “meditating” to select and confirm your drink order. Once the clock has cooked up your cocktail, use its voice command feature and say “hit me” to get your drink served. The idea is a fun twist on the trend, but the mental dexterity required to engage with the mindreading mechanism could restrict its use to early on in your night.