Unveiled in 2006, the iBar is a customisable surface technology that turns any bar into a giant version of an interactive, touch-sensitive screen. Integrated video projectors can display any content on the bar's milky surface, while built-in intelligent tracking software continually maps the position of every object touching its surface. That input is then used to let the projected content interact dynamically with the movements on the counter, allowing coloured lights, for example, to illuminate, link and follow every movement of hands, bottles and glasses. Multiple people can interact with the iBar at once, and virtual objects can be "touched" with the fingers, enabling a game of pinball where players shoot with their thumbs, for example. Content that can be displayed on the iBar includes internet content, interactive games and advertising; bars can also be fitted with Bluetooth technology to allow consumers to download their own content. The iBar is a stand-alone system comprising modules 2m long, and it can be networked wirelessly to allow interaction between two or more separate units.
The iBar has already been used in events, exhibitions, product launches and top night spots all over the world, Mindstorm says, including BMW's head office in Munich, Geneva's Pimp Club and a gala dinner at Google. Such technologies certainly have the potential to transform the consumer experience at bars, restaurants and other venues, as well as providing a wealth of new advertising and point-of-sale opportunities. One to try out early!