Concept Prototype

Project Background

The Pianocktail is a bartending piano that mixes cocktails based on the keys that are pressed. The concept came from the desire to convey the feeling/phenomenon of synesthesia; a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. In this case the synesthesia of sound and taste. The idea to use a piano was inspired by the novel L'Écume des jours by Boris Vian. The story is about Colin "a wealthy young man with a resourceful and stylish man-servant, Nicolas, as well as a fantastic olfactory-musical invention: the pianocktail." The Pianocktail was made in 2008 as a project for NYU's ITP, NIME Class.

To get a drink from the piano:
1. Sit on the stool
2. Play the piano
3. Stand up, so the piano mixes a cocktail based on what you played

The lights on the pumps show you what liquids you are getting.

The Pianocktail at the ITP Show 2008

Behind the scenes as I worked on the piano.

A Video From Vice's Motherboard (starting at 3:50 - Currently down)

How does it work?

Surprisingly, the piano has 8 octaves, and there are 8 alcohol families that are used in bartending (Vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, scotch, brandy and bourbon) Each octave in the Pianocktail corresponds to one alcohol family. Light spirits are mapped to high pitch keys and dark spirits to low pitch keys. The pianocktail has a stool with a pressure sensor that triggers a micro controller to start recording the keys that are pressed. There is a sensor under each key that connects to the micro controller to control the input. Once a person stands up, the micro controller runs an algorithm to pour 1-2oz of spirits, 2-4 oz of liquors and 4-6 oz of mixers like juice or soda. The pourers are controlled by solenoid valves controlled by the micro controller. There are LEDs on each pump that light up when a pump is pouring liquid into the serving pipe that empties into the serving glass.

Key-to-Alcohol Mapping

Product Shots

Product Details