No hooch-addled human in a bar likes to hear that he or she is being cut off. But what if the news came from a bowtie-wearing panda bear robot? Fewer fights, more peace in the world? That’s the concept behind SOBEaR, the panda bear bartender who lets you (even wants you to!) breathe in its face, and then pours you the drink you should have — rather than the one you want.
An invention of art student Joe Saavedra, SOBEaR combines an alcohol sensor, a programmed microchip (an ATmega168 chip soldered into a custom PCB circuit, if you must know), and a cuddly panda plush toy that holds the fate of the rest of your night in its judgmental paws. Once you turn on SOBEaR and blow in its face, it rates how boozy your breath is on a scale from 1 to 6, and shows it to the world using a color-coded scheme. If it deems you sober enough, it will pour you a drink — but the closer you get to blotto, the less liquor you get.
SOBEaR is still in the prototype phase. Saavedra said he made it a panda bear to give it “a sense of trustworthiness, as if a teddy bear could ever do you wrong.” Maybe that’s true at home but out in the real world, with only its cuteness to protect it against the flying fists of angry drunks, SOBEaR may need Saavedra to invent next a chain-wearing bouncerbot to keep it safe.