Smart Drink Coasters Form Pub Network

Smart drink coasters are a pervasive computing project from Sentilla. When you put them out on the bar, they form a wireless network. These coasters know when a drink has been placed on top of them, and whether or not that drink is empty. They can even notify the bartender if you've run out. Here's how the system works; just lay the coasters out on the table or bar, and start them up. Now, put a full drink on each coaster. As each person has their drink, the coasters communicate with each other. They also communicate with you by using flashing lights.

When watching Sentilla coasters, look for the following behaviors (video):

  • The coasters know when a drink is placed on top of them and when it is removed.
  • The coasters notify each other when new things occur (a drink is placed on them, removed, etc)
  • The coasters provide "visual feedback" using lights embedded within them.
  • The coasters are wirelessly interconnected.

Obviously, you wouldn't create smart drink coasters (picture) without first creating a coaster software development platform for building coaster applications.

"We fired up our Java development environment and started writing a bunch of coaster libraries (ah, we now have a com.sentilla.coaster.* package to import). All in all, our libraries took a few minutes to write and quickly other Java developers in house were modifying, adding, and refining the libraries.

"One library, our favorite right now, is called CircleCoaster. Very simply, it sets which lights are on, which ones are off, and then the coaster goes to sleep until the next segment of the circle needs to be lit up, thereby making the LEDs light up in a continually moving circle pattern."

If you're not dizzy from watching coaster lights (they are festive, too, this time of year), take a look at how T-Rot Thinking Robot Tends Bar, Chats and Koolio - the Autonomous Refrigerator Robot.

Read more about it at Build your own smart drink coasters at Sentilla blog.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of - where science meets fiction.)

Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.