Textspresso machine takes coffee orders through text message
April 16, 2012
When Seattle-based start-up, Zipwhip, wanted to show off its new cloud texting platform, it needed a way to demonstrate just how useful it could be. Most companies might talk data points, like how fast its platform broadcasts or how its product offers a service no one else does. Instead, Zipwhip got a little creative and built the "Textspresso" coffee maker, a machine that accepts and brews specialty coffee orders via text message so the beverage is ready once a person arrives to pick it up.
So why would you need to order coffee through text message? Well, if you're standing right by the machine, you wouldn't. If you're away from the device though - like on your way to the office or in the bathroom - you can send out a text to make sure a hot cup of joe is waiting for you when you get there. After receiving the text order, a mechanical arm automatically picks up a mug from a warming tray and carries it to the espresso maker. The machine then serves whatever drink was ordered and the arm delivers the mug back to the heating tray to wait for its owner.
The machine itself was constructed and programmed in-house by Zipwhip from scratch after the office decided to ditch its old drip brewing machine for a much fancier espresso maker. Once the hardware was in place, the company worked out the movement scripts for the mechanical arm by having employees test different motions using an Xbox 360 controller. For now, the machine can only accept simple orders ("coffee," "latte," "espresso double," etc.). Zipwhip is also refusing to reveal what phone number the Textspresso uses to avoid getting flooded with hundreds of random orders (and no, it's not the one listed on its screen).
As an added touch, the machine will soon also incorporate an edible ink printer that can actually print directly onto the coffee's top layer of cream. Zipwhip plans to have it print the company logo along with the phone number that ordered the drink, so that people don't mix up the orders after they're made.
Unfortunately, Zipwhip only built the Textspresso in order to demonstrate their cloud texting platform, which allows text messages to be sent and received between computers and Android devices. Since revealing its creation though, the company has been flooded with questions about how to build one and has now stated that it intends to publicly release the designs for the machine later on.
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