Coding Coffee

There’s a wonderful irony to the Jetsons’s domestic robot Rosie: She’s a highly complex machine created to perform simple chores. Real life roboticists would realize that for such tasks you could skip the complicated anthropomorphism, resulting in devices like the Roomba.

01jet03While we understand the Roomba as a domestic robot, thanks to Nespresso’s new VertuoLine, we need to expand the definition to include espresso machines and coffee makers.

The VertuoLine is the first generation of an automated combined espresso/coffee maker—and the only choice you make is which capsule you’d like. Current machines require that you press several buttons to determine how strong or how large you want your beverage to be, and you’d need two different machines if you liked both espresso and coffee. Here, the choices are condensed into one, and the work of remembering steps is done by the machine.

The VertuoLine achieves this by having barcodes around the rims of the capsules, which the machine reads to determine how much water for how much strength that particular capsule needs.

That’s a neat expansion of the use of bar codes for home devices. Instead of a bar code simply being used for identification, here it’s being used as an instruction set. Now, obviously, the idea of loading computer code that gives instructions isn’t new at all. In fact, this is arguably a back-to-the-future reversion to something  like paper tape.

Nevertheless, in this age of constantly having to download apps, we’re intrigued by the ease of use. While the VertuoLine’s price makes it a luxury item, we wonder if the simplicity of bar-coded modules might catch on for other domestic devices that could make life easier for seniors with physical and cognitive challenges.

Rosie animation cell from VanEaton Galleries, and their procrastination-inducing Hanna-Barbera Character Index.