Come in, sit down, and chat with the bartender at the Robots Bar and Lounge in Ilmenau, Germany. Carl, the humanoid barkeep, will engage you in a short conversation and then help a human bartender prepare you a nice cocktail. Made from parts of discarded industrial robots, Carl wears a sensor-studded belt that keeps him from crashing into the bar or his flesh-and-blood coworkers.
Photo: Regis Duvignau/Reuters
You’d be surprised how much fakery there is in the world of wines, with scammers trying to pass off new wine as highly prized older vintages. But one of the latest countermeasures for ferreting out the fakes is a test of the age of a wine’s glass bottle. This researcher at the Nuclear Research Center of Bordeaux, in France, uses a machine that shoots ion beams at the bottle. The resulting X-rays emitted by the bottle provide clues to when and where the bottle was produced.
Photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
No, she’s not about to kiss her smartphone. She’s blowing into an NTT DoCoMo Sensor Jacket that’s turned the handset into a breath analyzer. This particular model will provide a readout of her blood alcohol content or alert her if she has bad breath. Two other models measure radiation and the user’s body composition (fat and muscle mass), respectively.
Photo: Coravin/Rex Features/AP Photo
There’s at least one drawback to enjoying a bottle of wine: the cork. Getting it out can be a pain, and once it’s out, the wine begins to lose its character because of oxidation. But the Coravin Wine Access Technology lets oenophiles enjoy a favorite vintage while leaving the cork in place. When you’re ready to pour a glass, push the gadget’s thin, hollow needle through the cork. Pressurized argon gas flows into the bottle, forcing wine out without letting oxygen in. When you’re done, withdraw the needle and the cork will reseal itself.
If you’ve ever aspired to the title of brewmaster, the PicoBrew Zymatic automatic beer brewer will make it official. Just add water, grain, and hops into their respective containers, type in a recipe that tells the machine what, when, and how much of the ingredients to add to a batch, and walk away. In less than 4 hours you’ll have unfermented beer, or wort. Add yeast, let it ferment for about a week, and then carbonate it, and you’re ready to drink.
Monsieur is a robotic bartender that can mix 300 different cocktails. It’s smart enough to remember which concoctions you like and to make suggestions based on what you’ve previously ordered. It comes with a mobile app that lets you order a drink without getting up from the couch, and it even estimates your blood alcohol level so you don’t overindulge. Speaking of which, Monsieur will adjust the strength of his drinks to match your tolerance, whether you’re what it calls a “lightweight” or a “boss.”
Who would’ve guessed that a bold-flavored Bordeaux could double as a battery? Researchers at Intel recently ran an experiment in which they drew enough power from a glass of red wine to run a low-power computer. The exercise was part of the chipmaker’s focus on future electronic devices that will be able to draw what little energy they need from ambient light, a human’s body heat, or the contents of a liquor cabinet.
Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images
The eProvenance Global Tracker was created to monitor fine wines during the distribution process. The device sends text messages that give real-time updates with temperature and humidity data as well as a shipment’s geolocation. This tracking is necessary, says eProvenance, to protect wines from extended exposure to temperatures that could set off chemical reactions that would degrade color, aroma, and aging effectiveness.
The V-Tex chiller from Enviro-Cool can bring a bottle of champagne or any other beverage from room temperature to 5 °C in under a minute. The key to this quick cooling was figuring out how to chill wine while preventing the liquid closest to the inside surface of the bottle or can from freezing before the rest of the liquid cools down. The device’s developers came up with an algorithm that tells the machine how much and how fast to spin—not shake—a particular container so that its contents are cooled evenly. What’s more, the spinning won’t cause carbonated drinks to fizz when they’re opened.