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When we tell  our friends or family we were adding face recognition to a coffee machine, often the first question was ‘Why?’. A valid question, which is actually quite easy to answer: because we want to know whether we can, it’s fun and it’s another, just not your ordinary, reason to drink some beers on a Friday afternoon. This project is part of an ongoing idea, which we call Project Friday: doing stuff we’re excited about, which don’t necessary generate revenue. When we answer our friends and family that we do this just for fun, you can deduct from their facial expressions that the words ‘Nerd-Alert’ are going through their minds. The question that often follows is ‘does it actually work?’, well check out this video.

Credits video: Jan Persoon

So, how does it work. We placed a small camera on top of the coffee machine, which captures everything and sends the images to a small computer (a Raspberry PI). An algorithm looks real-time at these images and tries to detect faces. Once it has detected a face, it tries to recognize the face by comparing it with photos of colleagues. After recognizing the face, the computer can determine the favorite drink by using a database filled with these preferences. It then sends a signal to an Arduino board which we’ve soldered to the motherboard of the coffee machine. When the signal is sent, the coffee machine knows whether to brew coffee, espresso or cappuccino for example. When you want to differ from your preferences, you can just say “Stop”; the computer also has a microphone attached, which is able to recognize some basic commands. And we’ve even made the time you have to wair for your coffee a bit more fun, by making sure the computer plays a part of a song that you like.

Still not convinced? Just drop by (but send a photo beforehand)! You can reach us at

The code is on Github, check it out if you’re interested.

Read more about what happened before during our friday afternoons we were working on this cool project!

Principal Consultant & Data Scientist
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