A Coffee Drone? IBM Wants to Monitor Employees’ Caffeine Needs and Send Them Coffee

August 23, 2018, 10:05 AM UTC

If it feels like your boss is always hovering over your desk watching you work, get ready for the new normal: biometric-sensing drones hovering over your desk on behalf of your boss.

But there might be a payoff. Earlier this month IBM filed an application for a patent on a system of camera-equipped drones that could detect pupil dilation and facial expressions. Before workers start making typos, their drone overlords could swoop in carrying coffee to get them back into shape.

The Financial Times reports that IBM wouldn’t comment on the business possibilities of the technology, which combines hardware and “artificial intelligence.” The lead inventor on the patent, Thomas Erickson, has retired, and calls himself a skeptic of artificial intelligence on its own. Instead, he writes that more significant advances will come from the ability to “tap the knowledge and intelligence distributed among humans.”

Perhaps aerial coffee deliveries will accelerate that process.

Some Dutch entrepreneurs built a working system in 2014 called Coffee Copter, but IBM may have beaten them to the intellectual property punch.

Last year, Costa Coffee delivered iced coffee by drone as a publicity stunt in Dubai. Its goals were not as lofty as Erickson’s, though: the customers involved were reclining on the beach.

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