When Robots Make Your Coffee and Holograms Say Hello

SXSW Monday: I’m here today to check more sessions and events out. Most that I’m interested in are in the afternoon. In the morning, a man needs his coffee, and as I’m walking from my parked car — wherever that is, somewhere blocks away from the action — to the convention center, a man asks me out of the clear blue sky:= “Hey, would you like some free coffee?”


Um, yeah. I would. Very much. He ushers me over to this trailer, which it turns out belongs to GE.

Those two white arms are robots. The barista attaches a syringe to to what, I guess, is its hand. The syringe is full of condensed coffee. She doesn’t start you on a coffee IV, which is a pity.

They snap a photo of you, or a logo that you’re wearing or have handy.

I happened to be wearing my PJTV shirt…

So, after a few seconds, the robot gets the image and passably writes it onto the foam on top of the coffee.

Thanks to Vivian at RetailMeNot for letting me snap pics while the robot was making her coffee. Click on the next page to see the holographic tour guide.

Once you get inside the convention center, the sheer scale of the place and the number of events can be a little daunting. If you need help finding your way around and didn’t download the slick and very well-made SXSW app, 3M’s holographic tour guide is here to help you.

She’s life-sized and, when viewed directly from the front, can fool you for a couple seconds.

When you walk by in front of her within normal speaking range, she’ll start talking to you and ask you if you need “inspiration” to find a session or event. There’s a touchscreen, the corner of which you can see in the lower right, that lets you interact with her. It’s cool, but a little unnerving to be honest. When she starts talking, she looks real enough that you feel like etiquette dictates that you have to respond, at least say hello. It feels rude not to.


I’m off to sessions and probably another run around the trade show floor. If you’ve been to SIGGRAPH or NAB, it’s like that. Big. Technology and its attendant salespeople everywhere. Swag ranging from pens and T-shirts to Texas-sized cups of beer. Mike Bloomberg would not approve of the big cups of stuff. That’s his problem. This is Texas.

Some day we’ll have no more baristas, but lots of coffee bots and holograms ushering us to cars that are driven automatically. And jet packs so we won’t have to park the cars that we do drive in questionable lots we’re likely to have a hard time finding when it’s time to go home tonight and we’re longing for a coffee IV.

A man can dream.
Cross-posted from PJ Tatler


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