[Technology Exploration] A cup of coffee from a cutting-edge technology


LOUNGE’LAB produces a robotic arm that brews coffee other than the machine making coffee by the touch of a button. When you are in a coffee shop, you will experience a future where people and robots co-exist for a while.


The process of injecting life into robots
LOUNGE’X, a coffee shop operated by LOUNGE’LAB, has two types of baristas. One is a person, another is a robot. A person receives an order with a bright smile and a robot makes coffee. At the same time, the robot can make multiple cups of coffee with a uniform taste. That is because the robot does not feel the pain in its arm. Coffee made by a person can be different in taste depending on the weather, mood of the day, and physical energy. To reduce this deviation, coffee shops invest in building a variety of systems and creating manuals to train baristas. Robots are very useful to reduce these costs.

Some people worry that their jobs may be replaced with robots. In LOUNGE’X, human beings are always stationed. There are tasks that robots cannot do better than humans. The tasks can be referred to as making coffee recipes after looking at customer reactions, running a shop, and providing a service to customers with a warm attitude. LOUNGE’LAB creates robots to ease the workloads and let people focus on something they can do better.

LOUNGE’LAB brings life into robots. The robot was updated to shake up like breathing while it is waiting for extraction for a while after pouring hot water into the dripper. When it was staying still, customers often thought coffee was ready and took it with them. It stops working if a teapot is filled with more than a certain amount of water. The sensor that detects additional weight has been equipped to the robot to avoid accidents of hot water from spilling. When there are no customers, the robot arm dances. When customers enter the coffee shop, it greets them. To cope with various situations, programs are entered into the robot from time to time, and now, it feels like the robot has a life.


The reason I hate unmanned coffee shops
The reason for visiting LOUNGE’X is to experience the new feeling that the robot can give. It gives comfort that I can never feel in an unmanned coffee shop with full of coffee machines. The biggest difference between the unmanned coffee shop and LOUNGE’X is ‘blocking external variables’. When stepping into the unmanned coffee shops lined up on streets these days, I feel like it is too dry and isolated. The coffee made from simply pushing a button cannot give us any inspiration. The reason which unmanned coffee shops can be operated is that they restrict customers’ behaviors by creating atmosphere that has nothing to do but only buying and drinking coffee in the shops. LOUNGE’X, where the robot arm serves customers, offers a unique experience. Here, people can do anything without restrictions. For this, LOUNGE’LAB trains the robot in advance considering the situations that may happen.

If you watch <Terminator>, a dystopian sci-fi movie, a robot attacks to control human behavior. On the other hand, there are movies that depict robots and people living together. The control comes between robots and people. On the contrary, teaching robots is a way to co-exist. The goal of LOUNGE’LAB is to make robots become part of everyday life.


Technology is to say the experience
LOUNGE’LAB is considering a variety of automation services. For example, it is just to write a scenario where an unmanned coffee shop called X Express is built next to an electric car charging station. It takes at least 15 minutes and a maximum of 40 minutes to charge a car which means it is enough time to make people consume. We will make them enjoy coffee and a bakery through X Express instead of using cellphones in the car. The robot arm brews coffee and the serving robot delivers the bread. Then, why does LOUNGE’LAB that urges co-existence with people create unmanned coffee shops?

In the near future, electric car charging stations will be stationed everywhere nationwide. The charging stations are even needed in the places where people do not often reach. What would it be like if a person is running a coffee shop in such a remote place alone? Do you think a person is needed here? LOUNGE’LAB is still developing coffee shops for people.


A coffee robot that learns and advances: Baris
LOUNGE’LAB’s robotic arm ‘Baris’ learned recipes from experienced baristas who have accumulated experiences for a long time. Whenever coffee beans are changed, new recipes are updated to the cloud. Algorithms stored in the cloud update Baris to ensure uniform taste regardless of time and region. Now, we are working on Baris to equip lenses. It is about attaching eyes in case of people. Through the lenses, Baris will learn patterns of human behaviors. It learns by itself and advances to cope with various reactions and crises.

Serving robot moving on Z-axis
Until now, serving robots could only move on flat surfaces. Can you imagine if a robot communicates with the elevator in the building? If the building is equipped with a serving robot on the development by LOUNGE’LAB, you do not need to carry coffee. The coffee will be already arrived where you want it to be. We are also thinking about running a serving robot at X Express.


About the Artist
LOUNGE’LAB is a service bot startup that tries to apply AI and robotics technology into our daily lives. Focusing more on the value of products and services than the value of the company, They develop technologies in the field, not at the desk. The slogan is ‘we invent everyday technology for all’. Currently, they are operating LOUNGE’X, where robots and baristas work together, and Brown Bana, the first interactive robot ice cream shop in Korea.