Apparently This Matters: How to get served at a bar

Story highlights

  • Researchers in Germany studied how bartenders respond to patrons wanting to order drinks
  • According to the study, waving money and shouting doesn't get you noticed at the bar
  • Ultimately, they hope to use the study to create artificial intelligence for a robot bartender

Crammed three-deep at the bar on Friday night used to be my idea of good time. But years have passed, and now I prefer the quiet solitude of rearranging my sock drawer, pretending that TV commentators speaking proper British are doing the play-by-play.

"Extraordinary! We haven't seen color-coordinating like this since Liverpool 1974!"

In my younger days I was right there with the masses, holding up money trying to get noticed by the bartender and once again concluding that all this would be monumentally easier if I had ovaries.

Or if I weren't short. And gingery. And a mouth breather.

"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

However, it apparently takes more than just physical attributes to get you noticed. A new trending study has come out that sheds scientific light on how to truly be the chosen one.

Apparently my Bar Mitzvah was all just a waste of time.

The study, recently published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology, was conducted at Bielefeld University in northwest Germany, where researchers examined bar patrons there and in the neighboring town of Herford. They also looked at drinkers in Edinburgh, but I'm pretty sure that was just an excuse to use grant money to fund a three-day bender in Scotland.

Which I fully support.

There's nothing I don't like about the Scots, and their collective ability to cover a city sidewalk in a symphony of bodily fluids should be celebrated and admired.

Seriously. I was in Glasgow the night before a Celtic football match. I've witnessed things that cannot be unseen.

Oh, the humanity!

Anyway, what the research ultimately discovered is that the key to getting noticed really isn't connected to looks, and has little to do with shouting or waving money or whistling. Save all that for when your friend Amy wisely decides to ride the mechanical bull.

I'd like to see a robot make THIS.

(Viral Video Pro Tip: Remember to shoot the bull-riding vertically, and yell directly into the microphone.)

Alas, it seems that when you really need a drink, it all comes down to this: Stand perfectly square to the bar without wedging, and stare directly at the bartender.

Which is only creepy about 97% of the time.

Nevertheless, the study reveals that, "Both signals were necessary and when occurring together, sufficient."

So, putting it simply, the net result of all this money and all this research is to get as close as possible and make eye contact. You know ... as opposed to locking yourself in the bathroom and hoping the bartender just magically shows up with a Cuba Libre.

"Thanks, David Blaine!"

"(Sigh) Money's tight."

But while the findings don't exactly teach us anything overly useful, what was interesting is the reason why they conducted the study in the first place.

They're making a robot bartender.

Yes, this was really all about improving the artificial intelligence skills of JAMES, a prototype robot that stands for Joint Action in Multimodal Embodied Systems. And I guess it's sort of a big deal.

Amazingly, the development of JAMES is being funded by a grant from the European Union.

To which Greece said, "That's terrific."

Believing it would take more than just vocal cues to get the tablet-headed robot to recognize customers, researchers set out to make JAMES more receptive to visual cues.

The study states that, "A bartending robot has to be able to distinguish between customers intending to order, chatting with friends or just passing by."

While the idea of having a robot bartender may sound harmless and interesting, and while I do appreciate the science, it concerns me that one day we might actually see JAMES -- or something like JAMES -- in use. And, thus, we'll have found a way to kill off one of the last great jobs that truly benefits from personal interaction.

Oh, the lack of humanity!

Follow Jarrett Bellini on Twitter.

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