Makr Shakr has opened a robotic bar at Sandbox VR, a new virtual reality gaming hub in London’s Covent Garden. Jenny Southan reports
Makr Shakr’s robotic bartender, Toni, will serve up “delicious cocktails and electrifying moves to bridge the physical and digital domains” at Sandbox VR, a new venue where gaming, eating and drinking converge to create a new leisure experience in London. (Not to be confused with metaverse gaming platform The Sandbox.)
Opened last month in London’s Covent Garden, Sandbox VR is a futuristic virtual reality playground for groups of up to six people, where you can “see and physically interact with everyone inside, just like the real world”.
Upon entering, guests will be greeted by Makr Shakr’s most advanced robot Toni, which is covered in sensors that enable it to mimic the motions of a human mixologist, allowing it to prepare anything from a spritz to a negroni – at a rate of 80 drinks per hour – for visitors taking a break from VR gaming.Once on-site, customers can order real cocktails with an app and see them being mixed by a pair of mechanical robot arms that have been designed by Makr Shakr. The company says that its automated bartender will “add a new dimension to the overall experience, highlighting the potential of robotics in leisure entertainment in the physical space”.Emanuele Rossetti, chief executive officer for Makr Shakr, says: “We are delighted to be teaming up with one of the beacons in virtual reality entertainment. Makr Shakr endeavors to pioneer novel drink preparation approaches and more engaging, seamless scenarios of sociality. In this regard, Sandbox VR’s new London venue perfectly aligns with our vision.”Andy Scanlon, co-founder and CEO of VR Entertainment Group, says: “When we first found Makr Shakr, we believed almost instantly that it shared the same philosophy as Sandbox VR: to deliver a unique shared experience centered on technology. As an avid fan of robotics, I believe robotically-shaken cocktails will contribute to the liveliness of any location.”Sandbox VR is a fast-growing brand that curates immersive virtual entertainment sessions for groups of individuals. Visitors, wearing VR headsets, interact closely with one another in the simulated space while undertaking different challenges.
The company has already garnered attention through its branches in Hong Kong, Singapore and the US. The London venue is its first location in the British Isles, as it aims to open more branches in the UK and Ireland over the next few years.
Proof of digital technologies’ seamless entrance into everyday life, Makr Shakr is committed to forging disruptive experiences in the entertainment sector. Its robotic arms have been a driver in headline arts and cultural events around the world.
Notable appearances include the exhibition AI: More Than Human at the Barbican Centre, London, in which Toni faced off against prominent local mixologists in a cocktail making competition.
On another occasion, the brand’s mobile unit Bruno was dispatched to Rihanna’s concert in Budapest, Hungary, as it showed off its choreographed movements to complement the catchy songs of the world-renowned singer.
Launched in 2014, Makr Shakr is the world’s leading producer of robotic bartending systems. Based in Turin, Italy, but operating worldwide, the company aims to empower people with new robotic interactions.
The Makr Shakr bar system combines future robotics with Italian design roots – having been developed in the Italian birthplace of Vermouth. Makr Shakr makes customers the mixologists, allowing them to create their own cocktails while the robots perform each step of the mixing process according to their instructions.
After the production of the Bionic Bar, which has been serving cocktails in the most prestigious Royal Caribbean cruise ships and in malls and hotels internationally, the company launched Toni, the first robotic bartender catered for the mass market.
With this new product, the company aims to further encourage people to think about the changes introduced by today’s “robotisation” trend and the social implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Over the last years, Makr Shakr’s robotic arms have served over one million perfectly crafted drinks, with a peak of 800 cocktails produced per night.