How Monsieur Works: The Hardware View
Monsieur is running on Android, which powers a controller that, in turn, controls a thermoelectric cooler, temperature sensors, cup sensors, and lighting (essentially, everything mechanical). Peristaltic pumps blast out the various liquids within a milliliter of accuracy.
Givens says that the vacuum pumps don't naturally allow for carbonation, but the company patented a technique to make this possible. Monsieur's thermoelectric coolers are similar to those used in small wine refrigerators, rather than the full compressor systems contained in a typical refrigerator, making the robot more environmentally friendly (Ed.: Though, as anyone with a wine collection will tell you, thermoelectric units may impose other tradeoffs...).
Monsieur includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and ZigBee-capable hardware for interaction with an automated home, because heaven forbid your garage door can't alert Monsieur that you're just seconds from that Pink Squirrel (hey, it actually tastes really good). In fact, the idea is to keep the options open for various drink-making triggers, whether that's an event within an app, or eventually allowing users to write situational rules like celebrating a touchdown at a Super Bowl party. I went ahead and put in a request for audio detection of screaming children; after one scream, I want a Cosmo.
There's also a rechargeable battery for remote locations, such as the underground parties in New York that we just saw on Law and Order: SVU.
The display in the prototype is a Nexus 10 tablet, but Givens says the company will build its own 10-inch LCD screen for the final production units. There will also be options for 13- and 22-inch screens.
Though it's referred to as a robot (and we had some pretty high hopes for a bartender on wheels), the Monsieur is really just a box. The prototype is made of wood, and the company will also make a stainless steel model, a high-end polycarbonate model, and a clear acrylic version where you can see all of the lighting and pumps. The Monsieur will be produced in a factory, but hand-assembled, Judge tells me. While we're not looking at the Moto X line-up of color choices, Judge says that are plans for variety, suiting everyone from the local frat house to the snooty book club.
The Monsieur comes in four-, eight-, and 16-container versions. The big one is really for commercial use, measuring about 50% wider than the eight-container version (22" wide x 18" deep x 21" high) that was making my Bahama Mamas. The four-container version (12"x12"x18") sells for $1500, and it's sort of the rum and coke model. Not as much fun, but it'll get the job done if you like your cocktails simple.
Givens says that Monsieur doesn't have the specialized container needed to preserve wine. Yet.