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Smart Ice Cube Orders Drinks When Glasses Are Empty

Martini's Smart Cube technology consists of a plastic ice cube containing a Bluetooth beacon and a sensor that determines when a drink is finished and transmits that information to bartenders.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 03, 2016

When car race fans ordered drinks at last month's Italian Formula (F1) Grand Prix, at a pop-up bar operated by the Martini wine and spirits company, they could opt for a drink with an intelligent ice cube containing a Bluetooth beacon and sensor that could not only cool their beverage, but also order the next one for them. Martini's Smart Cube, designed and provided by U.K. creative agency AMV BBDO, detects when a glass is empty and automatically triggers a reorder of that drink, while also enabling bar personnel to quickly locate an individual whose drink requires replacement.

The system has two purposes, says Laila Mignoni, Martini's creative excellence director: It saves consumers time that they would otherwise have to spend seeking an employee or queuing at the bar to reorder, and it prevents patrons from drinking too much at the bar, since the system is designed to offer only two drinks to each individual.

Each Smart Cube emits a unique color combination of LED light.
Martini—commonly known as Martini & Rossi, and one of the world's largest wine and spirits brands—sells Italian wines, sparkling wines, vermouth and other spirits. The brand began working with AMV BBDO this past spring to develop a technology that would bring greater visibility to the consumption and reordering of drinks at bars. Martini intends to provide the solution to bars once it launches the system at scale within its own temporary bars at Grand Prix races worldwide, or at other sites.

The Smart Cube was first tested earlier this summer at a bar in Rome, on a limited basis, Mignoni says. It was then tested again at the Terrassa Martini Darsena, a pop-up bar at the Grand Prix event held in Monza on Sept. 2-4.

The cube contains built-in capacitive liquid sensors, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon, an antenna, two watch batteries, an on-board processor and LED lights, says James Rowley, AMV BBDO's director of creative technology. The device transmits data to an iPad, installed at the bar, that is running an app from AMV BBDO.

When a patron orders a drink, the bartender or server asks that individual if she would like to use the Smart Cube system and thereby automatically receive a second drink once she finishes the first. If she agrees, the patron provides her name, which is entered into the app on the bar's iPad, along with the ID number printed on the Smart Cube. Each cube has a short number printed on it (such as 48) that is linked in the app's related content-management software on a cloud-based server, with the longer ID number being transmitted by the that cube's Bluetooth beacon. The patron's name is then linked with that particular cube in the software.

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