Washington, Sep 20: In the midst of dim lighting, a jumble of conversations, and loud music blaring, have you ever wondered how bar staff have to face these numerous challenges when serving their customers.
A Bielefeld research team analysed how the body language of the potential customer helps the bartenders to identify who would like to place an order and who does not.
The team found that real-life observations were at odds with the widespread belief that customers wave for signalling that they would like to order a drink.
Analysing the real-life data showed that it is crucial how customers position themselves at the bar counter. These findings were integrated in the "brain" of the robotic bartender James.
The study is part of the EU project 'James' (Joint Action in Multimodal Embodied Systems).
The robot is named 'James', after the research project. Its head is a tablet computer showing big, comic-style eyes which can establish eye contact with the customers. Its mouth moves in sync with its speech.
The one-armed metal body forming James' torso is fixed behind the bar. James accepts drink orders, reaches for the drink using its arm and a four-fingered hand and serves the drinks to its customers.
The researchers from Bielefeld video-recorded how customers managed to get the attention of a bartender for placing their orders.
Recordings were made in pubs and clubs in Bielefeld (Germany), Herford (Germany) and Edinburgh (United Kingdom).
The analysis of the recordings revealed which signals were commonly used and which were used rarely by the customers to attract the bartenders' attention.
Contrary to what people tend to think, only one in fifteen customers looked at their wallets to signal that they would like to place an order.
And fewer than one in twenty-five customers gestured at the bartender.
The most common and successful signals are less pronounced: more than ninety per cent of the customers positioned themselves directly at the bar counter and turned straight towards the counter or a member of staff.
The research team found that visitors who do not wish to place an order would instinctively avoid these behaviours.
Subconsciously, they maintain a small distance to the bar and turn away from it, e.g. when chatting to friends.
"Effectively, the customers identify themselves as ordering and non-ordering people through their behaviour," psychologist Dr. Sebastian Loth, one of the authors of the study, said.
The study is published online in the research journal 'Frontiers in Psychology'. (ANI)