World’s First Beacon Coffee Machine at the London Beacon Hackathon

Posted by in News & Tech

As part of the excellent Beacon hackathon that’s been underway in London, we though it would be good to show an example of how Beacons can influence their surroundings – and what better way than to have a Beacon controlled coffee machine.

How great would it be if a coffee machine could remember what your favourite way to make coffee is, and vend this type each time just by placing the cup under the dispenser? If you’re carrying a beacon, or using an app on your phone, then the coffee machine can recognise who you are, that you’re dwelling in front of it for a few seconds, and that placing a cup is a sure sign that you’re in need of coffee. Because each beacon acts as an unique identifier, the coffee machine uses this to remember what type of coffee to vend – espresso, large americano, or the triple shot near-neat-caffeine which is good for keeping the oomph going during a hackathon…

How did we do it? We took the DeLonghli Magnifica bean-to-cup machine and interfaced it into one of our Locly Beacon Server devices (which is based on the Raspberry Pi). Having wired up the control buttons from the machine (these are either on/off push switches, or simple potentiometers) we can code the behaviour using our Beacon JavaScript library, which is running on Node.js on the Beacon Server. This handles the detection of beacons and decides which buttons to press automatically, so as to vend the right type of coffee according to the nearby beacon.

Just a bit of fun, but there are real world applications….Imagine an office environment were people have beacon key fobs, with multiple applications making use of this identity within the building, from allowing parking access, to managing meeting rooms, to knowing what type of coffee you like so that it’s automatically vended.

We hope this has shown how Beacons can make interactions with the physical environment a more seamless experience, giving more intelligence to our machines so that they can remove the mundane and repetitive decisions we’re forced to make. The potential of this approach is far reaching, and we hope it inspires others to start pushing the beacon boundaries.

Locly is an easy to use platform that lets anyone deploy proximity beacons with their own, real-time, localised content.  Find out more at