Perhaps I'm of a certain age, but when someone says the word "Jukebox" I immediately think of a Wurlitzer 1015 bubbler, although I've only ever seen one actually working. Or, at a pinch, perhaps a Seeburg M100C – the Happy Days model, as it became known much later. For decades, these music players were at the very center of popular music, and their modern descendants can still be heard in watering holes the world over. TouchTunes Interactive Networks and frog design have teamed up to re-ignite the social spirit of vintage jukeboxes, in an updated device designed to engage a generation used to on-demand digital content.

The 39.4 x 28.4 x 10.7-inch (100 x 72 x 27-cm) TouchTunes Virtuo SmartJuke has been designed by frog design to attract the tech-savvy 21-35 age group and offers the industry's first 26-inch, 16:9 aspect, 1366 x 768 resolution, angled landscape-oriented touchscreen interface that responds to smartphone-like gesture-based controls. Instead of facing the user with overwhelming music categories containing thousands of songs, Virtuo offers a game-like interface with several ways to search for music.

With the help of metadata provided by GraceNote and a patent-pending search algorithm, users can quickly browse and search for music by artist, genre, song title, lyrics, popularity or chronological release date. There's an integrated music recommender for those moments when you just can't decide what to play, and users can create customizable playlists on the device itself or via a myTouchTunes account. myTouchTunes Mobile users can also select music with their smartphones.

Designed to be a crowd puller rather than just a box on the wall, the Virtuo sports a high intensity LED panel above the interface, and ambient rim lighting around the device helps to draw users in. Added eye-candy comes in the form of a live equalizer LED animation that responds to the music, and a huge physical play button.

The first-of-its-kind system is powered by a 64-bit, fanless computer with dedicated graphics and 500GB of HDD storage. There's an integrated high definition camera with glass lens for video phone booth operability at 30 frames per second, and the music is pumped out courtesy of dual Bang & Olufsen ICEpower 450W amplifiers.

Venues benefit from a customizable interface, which can be tweaked to suit the environment, so that rock bar patrons are offered a somewhat different experience to those in jazz lounges. Promotions and interactive ads can be run when the system is in pause mode, with flexible, rotating banners available. The Virtuo also features four independently-controlled light show devices, and there's remote dashboard management over a secure internet connection.

TouchTunes Interactive Networks' CEO, Charles Goldstuck, recently launched the Virtuo SmartJuke at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, where a new entertainment platform for interactive, social, music and game play called OpenStage was also introduced.

Unfortunately, we're told that TouchTunes Interactive Networks doesn't publish pricing and availability information, so any venue owners will need to contact the company direct for more details.

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