Robotic bartenders (like those featured in the Fifth Element) may one day be coming to an event near you. Their distant cousin, the RoboKeg has already been invented.
The Robokeg is a Raspberry Pi powered, NFC (Near Field Communications) enabled, "hands free" pouring device. The four person team behind the RoboKeg (David Kay, Ed Paulosky, Chris Jeane, and Peter Verrillo) used a Makerbot to custom print the robot's gears, allowing it to pour a perfect pint of beer. They've also integrated an iPhone app that makes beverage suggestions based on the weather.
Patrons who use the RoboKeg will scan an ID bracelet that sets the robot into action and starts the beer flowing. Later, when the event is over, they'll get a bill via SMS.
The team also appears to love Twitter, because one feature of the RoboKeg app is that it sends out a tweet every time you purchase a beer.
As of now, they have not yet added a feature that cuts patrons off after a certain number, which can be good or bad depending on how you view it. It makes me wonder how long it will take before we see someone who has had a few too many screaming at a machine that doesn't understand them. Based on the attitudes I see in the self-checkout lanes at Walmart, probably not very long.
The RoboKeg still has some issues, and it's definitely a very early prototype. Still, the ability to speed up the long drink lines at popular venues could only be a good thing. Now, if they could just automate the long lines for the women's restrooms, we'd be all set.
You can check out how RoboKeg works here: