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Hi-tech beer mat


BI-GOODNESS is a bi-monthly column dedicated to the quirky, generally funny and often dangerously impractical inventions and business concepts that occasionally come our way. It is a tribute to the one-eyed entrepreneur, the nutty professor and dotcom jockey in each of us.

Shakespeare might have been talking sex when he wrote that alcohol “provokes the desire but it takes away the performance”, but he could just as easily have been talking about invention. After all, the marriage of science and alcohol is not known for siring too many of humanity’s soaring moments. Take exhibit A: the robotic beer-launching mini-refrigerator.

New technology is usually introduced into the workplace to reduce labour and increase productivity. And so it is with the hi-tech beer mat developed in 2005 by two research students from Saarland University, Germany.

The beer mat, which contains embedded circuitry, can alert bar staff when a patron’s glass needs a refill. A small light goes off behind the bar, signalling which table requires new drinks.

Set the assignment of enriching an everyday object with computer power, what were the chances that uni students would work alcohol into the equation? German uni students, too.

You can picture bar staff refusing service to a waylaid customer, and the indignant drunk pointing to behind the bar and slurring, “Honey, the light don’t lie.”

Bar staff are sure to be thrilled with this new technology. Not only are they now forced to rove around busting patrons sneaking a surreptitious smoke inside licensed premises. Soon they could be required to race back to the bar to check the empty drink switchboard, blinking at them like an advanced level of Space Invaders.

The Hi-Tech Beer Mat promises to do for Alcoholics Anonymous what the invention of the TV remote did for Jenny Craig. And it also contains a mechanism that its inventers believe could be used for voting on pub games, such as trivia, comedy and, wait for it… karaoke!

Just in case drinkers needed help expressing themselves.

If you have a business idea that you momentarily tried to pursue (but realise now that you should have known better), let us know in our forum.