Baristas, it's time to welcome your new robot overlords.
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What's better than coffee from your local cafe? Coffee from your local cafe that's been embellished with foam art, of course! Not just anyone can create beautiful foam designs like these—it's a craft that demands care and precision on the part of the barista.
But what if it didn't? What if you could create elaborate foam designs... with a machine?
Well, you can. The Textspresso allows you to print texts directly onto coffee foam. A cafe in Taiwan lets visitors print selfies onto their coffee foam. And a designer in Japan has built a device that functions as a sort of coffee foam 3D printer.
Impressive as they are, none of these options allows users to create a custom design and impress it directly onto the foam. That's where the Ripple Maker comes in. This clever machine combines hardware and software to produce high-resolution designs that can be "rippled" onto lattes, cappuccinos, or any other foam-topped drink.
It's may sound more than a bit gimmicky, but the company behind the device, Steam CC, has already struck a deal with Lufthansa to create "ripples' for the German airline's First and Business Class passengers. It's not difficult to imagine a few quirky, high-end coffee shops picking up a Ripple Maker of their own—unless, of course, their clientele prefers the human touch.
So how does the Ripple Maker work? It essentially combines the a 3D printer and an ink-jet printer, using a natural coffee extract (delivered through something called "Ripple Pods") to create the ripples that form the designs. Images can be printed in less than 10 seconds, and use nothing but 100 percent natural coffee extract.
It's also a connected device (surprise, surprise), meaning users can share designs or submit content to be added to the platform library. It's pretty easy to imagine the impact a coffee shop or other venue could make by promoting events via messages rippled directly onto its beverages.
The Ripple Maker is pretty expensive (MSRP $999) for a niche marketing tool, but since it's intended for coffee shops and restaurants, the price is actually not that unreasonable. Steam CC expects the Ripple Maker to ship this September.
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