If you hate having to make awkward small talk when you meet new people in a bar or party, Logbar might just be your next destination. Logbar is a new concept that attempts to make the bar experience more social and open by allowing customers to interact with each other through creating, promoting and selling their own original cocktails. Open on Monday evenings in their Shibuya location, Logbar is an experiment that re-imagines how we meet and interact with strangers on a night out.
Upon entering, customers are each presented with an iPad mini that they keep for the duration of the night. First-time customers create their own profiles, which store personalised information like their favourite foods, current mood and hobbies, as well as their drink preferences. Then of course, there is the obligatory profile photo. The staff will even supply a desk light to ensure a well lit photo.
A number of different bases, modifiers and flavourings including whisky, green tea liquor and even flower petals among others are available to create custom drinks. For that extra something, collagen powder, vitamin C, and dietary fibre are also on offer.
Once a drink has been created, customers can choose their own catchy name, description and photo to accompany the mix. The drink is then posted to a public timeline where other patrons can order your special concoction. On the particular night we went, creations such as ‘The Eiffel Tower’, ‘Caffeine Explosion’ and ‘Anti-Aging MalibuOR’ were on offer. If a custom drink looks and sounds appealing enough, other customers might buy the drink, and the creator receives a 50 yen commission.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of this system is that it is all supported by a platform that utilises features of social networking services to encourage interaction in a uniquely “digital” way. Custom drinks can be ordered by, commented on, and even “liked” by other people in the bar.
Customers can also suggests topics to talk about with everyone on the main timeline, and send chocolates as virtual gifts to each other. Each customer starts off with 5 complimentary chocolates, which can then be traded or converted into the real deal.
Although we were initially a little skeptical of how interesting using the Logbar system would be, it was quite surprising how much fun we had just playing around with our own creations, and being constantly updated on what the people around us were doing.
While the system does make social interaction smoother initially, having an iPad in front of you the whole time does mean that you are going to be engrossed in using it. There were a few times where it seemed like the entire bar fell into silence because everyone was engrossed in fiddling with their iPads. There is definitely a question concerning the kind of interaction systems like Longbar enhance, and this mirrors broader discussions on the types of relationships fostered by social networking services (SNS).
Logbar seems well suited to situations where there is a lot of casual interaction, as it simplifies the task of approaching someone you don’t know. Although it is a good way to meet new people, for a small group of friends on a night out, for example, it might not be the best way to catch up.
It would be interesting to see how this kind of system could be applied to a different range of contexts. For example, it is easy to imagine how Logbar could be used to enhance dating services like speed dating, where the system’s easy communication style and gift-giving features could really add a fun element that enlivens the atmosphere.