The next time you go to a bar, you may be greeted by a different type of bartender — her name is Cecilia.ai, and according to her maker, she’s the first robot interactive bartender in the world.
The rough overall shape and size of an arcade console game, Cecilia on a digital screen as a woman behind a bar, keeping busy in idle times through cleaning glasses and wipe down her virtual countertop.
Customers interested in a drink can come up and say their order. Cecilia can respond to the order, such as saying a certain ingredient isn't available or suggesting an alternative option. Cocktails are also available on a touchscreen menu, and your drink is delivered through a slot in the machine — though as the technology is still so new, you may not get it the first time you ask.
But the design behind Cecilia, which took three years to develop in Israel, allows it to learn as it goes, so next time she will learn how to respond. It can also be programmed to mix specialty drinks — like Florida International University's very own Sunblazer, made with Bacardi, pineapple and lemon juice — and can provide some classic bartender jokes, too.
At FIU, students are learning how to implement the technology and integrate it into the foodservice industry. The idea is not for Cecilia to take anyone’s job, but rather to relieve some of the pressure.
"It’s all about how do we find new solutions to the industry," said Brian Connors, the director of FIU's Bacardi Center for Excellence. "Hospitality will never take away human touch, but it will enhance customer experience."
At first, you may see Cecilia at stadiums for large events or at airport lounges and cruises, but there are broader plans, as well. The company ultimately believes Cecilia could help alleviate some of the strain felt by the service industry as it faces a labor shortage.
“I don’t think Cecilia will replace workers," said Nir Cohen Pareira, the marketing director for Cecilia.ai. "I think robots can help human bartenders sell more drinks and have more cocktails on the menu."