IR Glass Level Detection


[Johnny Lee]’s colleague [Paul Dietz] has done some interesting work using interactive tables. He’s specifically researched how to determine how full a drink glass is. In the video above, he’s using Microsoft’s Surface, but this technique should work with any IR camera based multitouch table. Determining the drink level requires custom glassware that has a small prism inside. When the liquid level is above the prism, light passes through, but when it’s below the top it reflects more IR light back into the table. Using this information, restaurant staff could serve drinks in a more efficient manner.

[Paul] has worked on another project that uses RFID and capacitive sensing to a similar effect.

15 thoughts on “IR Glass Level Detection

  1. On the other hand, real waiters/waitresses actually, you know, pay attention. Sometimes they bring a drink just before you finish your current one, or even two if you drink rather quickly. Not to belittle the project, but I don’t think this applies to places where people perform actions based on that data.

  2. spiffy, but i’m not sure equipping every table in a restaurant/bar with a $5000 surface setup is going to save money compared to standard table waiting. i suppose if you’re already installing them for bar games or what have you, it’d be a nice extra.

  3. Jeremy, wouldn’t the ice float (ideally) at the surface and likely by melted to the point where it wouldn’t affect the refraction off of the prism/cone? Ice is only a problem if you’re using ice-glasses, but I kinda doubt that glasses made of water would ever be placed directly on top of this system in the first place.

  4. Or… the waiter can LOOK at your glass to tell if he/she needs to refill it. Technology is great, lets not forget that it doesnt answer all our needs and that sometimes all we need is some simple HUMAN interaction.

  5. Sure, a good server won’t *need* this, but you can turn a mediocre server into a decent one, and a good server can serve more customers with greater ease. I think it’s pretty nifty.

  6. great, just great. how in the hell are a.d.d people like me going to finish meals, much less conversations with a blinking table?!? I’ll never order the second drink cause I’d forget my first one was there.

  7. Nah.. usually it’s either one extreme or the other. Either the waiter doesn’t fill the glass often enough, or in the case of coffee ‘mixed just right’ they fill it *too often*. really pisses me off when the screw up the mix.

  8. now the question arises if the table feels your glass is half full or half empty
    *badum tshh*

    and what about drink types?
    where a glass of beer or water at low level would be almost empty, a glass of whiskey would at same level be almost full
    distributing different glasses for each drink type would solve this ofcourse.. which is done for most drinks today anyway

  9. I think this is largely a proof of concept sort of project. As many have already said, no, this will not replace or even really help a talented server. However I’m sure there are other applications and uses of this technology that have simply not been realized yet.

  10. Some day I fear that we’ll know so much about human psychology that every detail about it will be used to pressure us to buy this, consume that, and to dream of the other. This is already happening, of course, but it can get much worse, I’m sure.

    It’s a cool technology and a clever idea, but is it an ethical use of what we know? It’s only likely to be put to use in the consumption of alcohol, as refills of carbonated beverages are generally “free” at most establishments, whereas it’s understood that one will pay for each refill of spirits pro rata.

  11. It’s a neat idea. Frankly I think having a smart table would be pretty damn cool at a bar. Like someone else said, just think of all the games and crap you could play while getting drunk – Even better you could play with the other tables.
    Whiteboard table you can save would be pretty popular I think. Having neat glasses like this would be just one of the many uses.

    Course when you have this kind of stuff, the need for many servers declines. One could simply order food from the table, pay at the table, etc. Complement this with a robot server and you never need to talk to a actual human while your eating :)

  12. Why not have a “coaster” built into the table with a small precise scale in it? Just punch in the drink name, a built in networking system tells the table the liquid density of the drink (with the glass automatically zeroed out) and the patron could set the level in the glass that he/she waned a refill at.

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