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Google Employee Builds KegDroid: a Beer Dispensing, NFC-Toting Android Robot

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Never mind the Samsung Galaxy S3, we think we’ve found the best use of Android and Google technologies that you’ll see all week. Google employee Paul Cariff has built KegDroid, a large version of everyone’s favourite green robot that can dispense beer.

It’s not just the beer dispensing that sounds awesome to us, oh no. KegDroid is packed to the brim with all sorts of clever tech, mostly from Google’s labs. The giant robot has a Motorola XOOM tablet running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich jammed into its belly, which runs a custom app designed by Paul.

An NFC reader sits between the two drip-catchers and interfaces with specially made NFC tokens, sending a message to an Arduino computer board that’s inside the case, which then controls the beer pouring from the taps situated in the arms of the Android robot.

Arduino is a clever board that Google introduced last year at its I/O conference to allow tinkerers and developers to automate various aspects of their home. The board could be programmed to interface with the lights in your house and an app on your smartphone, allowing you to switch them on and off or dim them, for example. In this case the Arduino board that’s cleverly hidden inside the green robot controls the beer pouring.

Once a user scans their NFC tag over the panel on the bottom they can choose between one of two beers using the custom app on the Motorola XOOM tablet, followed by the amount of refreshment that they desire: 30ml, 227ml or 330ml.

As you can see from the video below, it’s not quite perfect just yet. A straight downpour into a glass results in far too much head, although if you’re willing to be less lazy and hold your glass, you can of course tilt to achieve a better pour. That said there’s also plenty of scope for expanding what KegDroid can do. Here are some of our ideas:

  • A smartphone app that allows the drink to be chosen first, then touched to the NFC reader on KegDroid to start the pour.
  • The ability to have different types of NFC tag to determine the amount of beverage that you require.
  • Face recognition on the tablet rather than NFC to initiate the beverage pouring process.
  • The ability to just whistle at it and have the robot bring us the beer.

The last idea may be a little far-fetched, but we can dream. Check out KegDroid in action and let us know what you think!

Let us know your thoughts on our comments below or via our @Gadget_Helpline Twitter page or Official Facebook group.

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