One of the Amazon Alexa’s best features is custom skills. Any developer or individual can create their own skill that lets Alexa accept and respond to custom voice commands. For instance, you could build a smart toaster and set it up with your own skill that will activate the appliance whenever you say “Alexa, it’s toastin’ time.” Skills can work with virtually any hardware that has an internet connection, so long as you can add code to access the Alexa API. Audax took advantage of that fact to build an end table that automatically mixes drinks with a simple voice command.
This isn’t the first bartending robot we’ve seen; in fact, automatic drink mixing is pretty popular in our community. But the Amazon Alexa integration makes this project stand out. Instead of dealing with a touchscreen or a similar interface, parched couch potatoes can simply ask Alexa for the beverage of their choice. The end table will then mix that drink, so they don’t even have to stand up. The implementation here is also really cool. The end table’s surface looks normal and contains what appears to be a coaster. But that coaster is actually an actuated platform that lowers down into the end table to mix a drink, and then rises back up to present the cocktail.
Sadly, Audax doesn’t provide much detail about the hardware for this build. But we can see some components in the build video and make some inferences. The “coaster” platform was 3D-printed and it rides on bearings on steel rods, lifted by a DC motor with a belt. An Arduino Mega 2560 development board controls that motor and the peristaltic pump motors that pull spirits and mixers from their bottles. A servo motor flips the dispenser nozzle down over the glass. A separate development board, which appears to be based on an ESP8266, acts as a WiFi-connected intermediary between the Arduino and the Alexa service. All of those components attach to a frame made of aluminum extrusion that sits inside of a conventional end table with Plexiglass windows.
Audax has this setup with bourbon and four different mixers, but it would be easy to expand that to work with other liquors or more mixers. However, four mixers are plenty if bourbon is your preferred poison.