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Hi-tech Christmas party tricks: karaoke that keeps ‘tone-deaf’ singers in tune and holographic games are shape of things to come

  • An automatic cocktail maker, robotic bartender that serves drinks as it cleans, and lights with rhythm will impress guests and help gatherings go with a bang
  • Another machine will help lift the spirits by making 20 shots of liquor-infused gelatin pods, flavoured with piña colada and margarita, in only 10 minutes
PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2018, 10:04am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 7:02pm

It’s party season, so you want to wow your guests … but how do you impress them with something that has not been done before?

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From a hi-tech take on parlour games, to a personal robotic bartender, here are some ideas to put on a show-stopping party everyone will be talking about.

Goggle-eyed games

Australian computer software company Euclideon promises you and your guests a sensory experience like no other with its custom-made holographic entertainment table.

Unlike a traditional arcade gaming machine, the Euclideon Hologram Arcade Table uses holographic technology to project objects made of light.

Instead of the games being flat on a screen, they float in the air in front of the players and appear solid. No bulky virtual-reality (VR) goggles are required: just pop on a lightweight set of glasses, and you are ready to play.

Our hologram glasses turn simple projections into 3D holograms that bend to the user’s perspective ... many players reach out to try and touch the holograms
Bruce Dell, founder, Euclideon

Queenslander Bruce Dell, founder of Euclideon, says the table has two projectors which display flat images.

“Through a complex process that involves a lot of 3D mathematics and motion tracking, our hologram glasses turn simple projections into 3D holograms that bend to the user’s perspective, so that they always look accurate to the user’s view,” Dell says.

The experience is similar to that of augmented reality (AR), but with a greater sense of depth, and more accurate tracking, he says.

“Many players reach out to try and touch the holograms, as many of them look like they’re completely solid objects.”

A wide range of games have been developed for the tables.

Most of them last for around five minutes each and are designed for two players.

The fast-paced nature of the games also makes for engaging social interaction.

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Unlike computer games, Dell says they are not designed to keep one person glued to a screen for hours.

The company originally started making tables for business purposes, such as enabling property developers to bring buildings to “life” during a sales presentation, or for carmakers to customise luxury vehicles for their clients.

It was Euclideon’s early customers who alerted Dell to the technology’s entertainment value and before long he was making tables for gaming arcades – and now, even for high-end homes.

“People were saying,’ I need one of these for my kids. When can I get one?’,” Dell says.

What amazes me is how [the Princess Leia hologram shown in the 1977 film] ‘Star Wars’ got it right
Bruce Dell

The tables sit inside a booth, as the technology works only in a dark environment.

The total footprint of the set-up is 2 metres (6.5 feet) wide by 4 metres long and 2.4 metres high.

Each arcade table, which comes with the games provided, is made to order.

Distribution of the product began in October.

Dell says hologram technology will be the next advancement following AR and VR. It does not require the bulky headsets or generate feelings of dizziness associated with those technologies.

“What amazes me is how [the Princess Leia hologram shown in the 1977 film] Star Wars got it right,” he says.

The 3D luminous images first depicted in sci-fi cinema decades ago are remarkably similar to the holograms of today, now that the technology exists.

“And that’s very unusual,” he says.

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Shaken, not stirred – by robot

Maybe your style is more James Bond-esque – in which case, hi-tech drink dispensers come to the rescue.

Be your own mixologist at home with the likes of the Barsys automated cocktail maker. About the size of a microwave, and controlled by smartphone, it sits on your kitchen worktop ready to party.

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The company says Barsys is a culmination of robotics, electronics and the Internet of Things – the network of everyday objects embedded with computer devices, which enables them to connect and send and receive data using the internet.

The device holds five bottles of your favourite tipples and – with an app-based library of more than 2,000 cocktails – can reportedly prepare drinks to order in less than 30 seconds.

If that is not enough choice, you can also customise your own mix.

To cater for a thirsty crowd, a conveyor belt moves the glasses along as the drinks are being made, with lights telling them of the status. It also monitors consumption and notifies you when ingredients are running low.

Akshet Tewari, founder and CEO of the company, says about 80 per cent of Barsys customers use it in their home.

For parties it is not only a handy gadget, but a guaranteed conversation starter.

How to gel-out

Then the Jevo – a fully automatic gelatin shot maker – is your answer.

The device was created after co-founder Jeff Jetton was thinking of a quick and easy way to serve liquor-infused gelatin at his festive parties.

The gelatin pods, which come in flavours such as orange blossom, lemon burst, strawberry lemonade, margarita limeville, piña colada and wild cherry, are inserted into the machine and the liquor is then added.

It takes just 10 minutes to make 20 shots, which is far more efficient than the hours involved in the old laborious process.

As the machine tracks usage for automatic pod resupply, you never need worry about running out.

Jetton says the smart technology embedded in every machine will provide guests with “an experience they'll never forget”.

Bartender extraordinaire

How about a robotic bartender that brings the drinks to you?

Beer company Stella Artois has launched just that – in time for the party season.

Not only does B.A.R.T. (Bartending Automated Robotic Technology) serve beer and snacks to guests, it’s attached to a vacuum cleaner so it cleans as it goes.

The company describes its invention as “the hosting accessory of the season”.

A bright idea with rhythm

Give your home a disco vibe with lighting effects from Nanoleaf, a green technology company that specialises in light-emitting diode lighting.

The plug and play smart lighting system comes as a set of rectangular or triangular panels, which are easily fixed onto any flat surface using (the included) mounting tape.

Lighting scenes and schedules can be customised either thorough the mobile app, voice controlled via Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant, or manually controlled with the toggle button.

Along with a myriad of colour choices to set the desired mood, the system features a “Rhythm module” that reacts to music of all genres in real time.

It means the panels effectively “dance” along with the beat, creating your own private light show symphony in your own smart home.

Karaoke that’s on song

How about a karaoke machine? You know you want one in a Hong Kong household … so amp up the volume and get everyone rocking.

Mercifully, the Singtrix karaoke system has special performance enhancing technology that keeps a singer in tune.

The brand’s premium party bundle also has plug and play studio effects, such as four-part harmony, as well as hundreds of fun voice-distorting effects to use.

Forget the boring old song library typical of most karaoke set-ups, too.

In addition to the free YouTube karaoke and lyrics videos, the Singtrix also works with a smartphone, tablet or computer, as well as with a guitar or keyboard – so you and your friends can jam away to your own playlist, recordings or karaoke apps.

A private place to chill ...

As a considerate host, you might also want to provide your guests with some sort of chill-out zone.

Why not borrow from the on-trend office pod idea to give them some quiet time?

By creating an enclosed space, Hush provides a personal retreat ... into a dark, hushed, natural space in the midst of a busy place – even at a party
Freyja Sewell, designer, Hush

The Hush pod by British designer Freyja Sewell is a womblike pod made of biodegradable felt into which one or two people can climb and shut out the world if they wish.

“By creating an enclosed space, Hush provides a personal retreat, a luxurious escape into a dark, hushed, natural space in the midst of a busy place – even at a party,” Sewell says.

The felt casing is sustainably sourced and, being wool, is naturally breathable and durable.

With soft padding inside, made from recycled wool fibres, the Hush is also multi-climatic, meaning it is warm inside when the environment is cold, and cool when it’s warm.

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With technology at our fingertips, Sewell says it never has been easier for humans to connect.

“But what about when we want to withdraw?”

She says Hush allows us a temporary reset in an age “where privacy and peaceful respite is an increasingly precious commodity”.