If you are looking for an exciting hardware project, KegDroid deserves a look. It is a sophisticated system that involves Android, Arduino, NFC, plumbing and - beer. You have heard of desktop and laptop apps now we have bartop apps to add to the list.
This might seem like overkill but it is an indication of the way things are going. Soon the internet of things will be more important than the internet of people. In this case the object of the exercise is a glass of beer.
The system works by using an NFC reader to identify users, although its creator Pall Carff admits that RFID is an easy alternative, and their authorization to access the beer. Inside there is an Arduino controlling a set of solenoid valves. The valves simply make the beer tap live allowing the user to choose the moment when there is a glass under the tap to draw the beer. Flow meters are used to work out when to switch the tap off to deliver the amount selected. A Galaxy Tablet provides the user interface allowing the type of beer and amount to be selected. It also connects to the "users" Google+ page to download a photo and personalize the UI.
KegDroid appears to be based on the open source Kegbot project which supports RFID and 1-wire buttons for authentication as well as temperature tracking and a web front end.
Perhaps the final stroke of genius for KegDroid is to package the whole thing in a Droid body. Some how the little green fella looks at home on the bar top.
Watch the video to see it all work:
Who want's a glass of foam?
Despite all the fancy electronics and the UI, it still seems to be difficult to get a glass of beer rather than a glass of mostly foam. Surely there is some solution to this problem in a combination of hardware and software?