Old School Meets New Technology: Digital Innovation for the Jukebox

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Since the 1920s, young people everywhere have been dropping coins into music machines, giving them the power to select the tunes that will set the mood or get the party started.

The jukebox, in turn, quickly became a cultural symbol of American entertainment, and has managed to endure through the decades. In the ’70s, Sandy and Danny Zucko (from Grease, of course) have a tête-à-tête while choosing “These Magic Moments” on the jukebox at the Frosty Palace. In the ’90s, the box at the Peach Pit was frequented by the kids from 90210. And today, you can still find these music makers in restaurants and bars across the country.

For some time, the music on the machines (and the cost per play) were all that changed, as Perry Como and Bell Biv DeVoe were swapped for the likes of Kanye West and Lady Gaga. But now TouchTunes Interactive Networks and frog design have teamed up to bring this old-school favorite into the digital era with the introduction of Virtuo.

With a large 26-inch touchscreen and game-like interface, Virtuo is the first device released from TouchTunes’ new SmartJuke product line, which combines the best parts of the classical jukebox with the modern way that users choose and listen to music.

Developed on the OpenStage operating platform and running on Verizon’s 4G network, Virtuo offers advanced browsing options, such as the ability to search by lyrics and explore songs in a virtual web that links genre, chronology, influence and geography. Additionally, the customizable interface allows establishments to create playlists to fit the vibe of their venues, so you won’t be tortured with listening to pop music while drinking at your favorite downtown grunge bar.

Other extras include camera integration — so the box doubles as a photo booth — as well as the ability to hook up karaoke and allow users to build and edit their own playlists using MyTouchTunes.

With musical tastes constantly changing, it’s great to see technology that can evolve along with it, while revolutionizing the way we engage with the music. All that’s left is to press play.