Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bartending, RFID Style

eWeek.com reports.
A Miami-based 7-year-old beverage-monitoring software company is drinking from the keg of RFID and is selling a tilt switch that attaches to bottles and updates an Internet database every time the bottle is poured. … It's not merely recording how many times the bottle is poured, but it factors in the tilt of the bottle, the duration of the pour and the bartender's pouring style to calculate how much liquid is leaving the bottle.

"The software converts the tilt into an estimated volume, and the conversion is automatically perfected based on the history of each bottle; hence it becomes more accurate over time and adapts to each bartender's habits. When the bottle is empty, our sensor knows it and the software readjusts the historical pours of each bottle to the known volume of the bottle," said Beverage Metrics CEO David Teller, who said his company has between $5 million and $10 million in annual revenue. "Our system reconciles pours to ring-ups and recipes and automatically decides what is a long pour that should be changed to two pours [and] when to combine short pours in sequence."

Because the server that watches the tilt-tracking RFID system also tracks the POS (point-of-sale) system, it can also know what ingredients bartenders are using to make drinks and whether they are following the authorized recipes in addition to whether they are pouring too much or too little.
Sounds great, but …
John Fontanella, an RFID analyst with the Aberdeen Group, dubbed Teller's system "an interesting idea" but wondered whether wireless rings around the bottles would scare off customers and chill some of the bartender-drinker relationship.

"Will it be invisible to customers? Remember those machines that were used to accurately pour a drink every time? They were all over the place, and now I never see one. There is a reason why: It ruins the intimacy created between customer and bartender," Fontanella said. "Good bartenders take care of good customers. It's as simple as that, and that's what brings them back. If the customer is unaware, or if it is in a bar with a great deal of transient traffic, it makes sense."

But Fontanella is even more cynical about whether it will truly minimize theft. "I'm already thinking about how bartenders will beat this," he said. "They will find a way."

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