LAS VEGAS — Ecast unveiled a new jukebox outfitted with a super-size vertical flat-screen display that it will build and market for its music and interactive media network. Introduced at the AMOA International Expo here, the wall-mounting jukebox’s most prominent feature is a 40-in. touchscreen monitor that provides more area for the jukebox interface and the accompanying promotions that appear simultaneously.
Called the Ecast EQ, the new box’snovel form factor with shallow profile represents a radical change in hardware design, and will help position Ecast as a “touch media” company. The San Francisco-based company said its new jukebox will only be available to locations through professional music and games operators.
Prototypes of the new machine began testing on the West Coast in May, and more recently in New York City, under the codename “Ginger.” Nationwide distribution is planned for late fall. According to Ecast, the EQ design is intended to combat “location apathy,” a common complaint among some of today’s leading jukebox operators. The design makes it not only possible, but easy for patrons to interact with the jukebox by posting text messages and photos sent by cellphones.
The portrait-oriented screen with HDTV-quality output is divided into three zones. Jukebox applications run at the bottom, where patrons can touch the screen, while promotions and video run up top. The area in between the top and bottom, known as the belt, is bonus space for the location. Applications running local weather reports, professional sports scores and location logos appeared in the belt during tests. Ecast plans to add more options for this area as the product develops.
Patrons can engage directly with EQ’s interactive advertising, games, surveys and on-demand music selection from Ecast’s catalog of over 300,000 songs. The top-most display area allows distance viewing of passive content – like video promotions – plus social interaction with the EQ screen via mobile devices. For example, EQ’s photo sharing application allows location owners to enhance their standing as a community hot spot by instantly posting captioned photos pictures taken by patrons and staff. Ecast has also partnered with LocaModa to offer Wiffitti, a social application that allows consumers to send text messages directly to the EQ screen in order to flirt and chat with each other.
The large-screen wall system will not be supplied with an onboard amplifier, Ecast said, because a built-in amp sometimes creates service problems by circulating heat in the box. The company added that most of the bars that would benefit from the new jukebox design already have their own sound systems to which the box can connect.
Prior to its EQ launch, Ecast was exclusively a content and software provider for jukeboxes.Two years ago, the San Francisco-based company developed the MoJO core for itshardware partners, which today include NSM Music and the Wurlitzer Jukebox & Vending Co. The Ecast core incorporates a touchscreen monitor, computer motherboard, battery backups and a coin-op interface module in a single modular unit.
“EQ represents the next phase in the evolution of Ecast,” said Ecast president and chief executive John Taylor. “Over the past few years, we’ve taken the touchscreen digital jukebox beyond a music-only device to one that incorporates advertising with all the targeting of the Internet. With EQ, we’ve taken another radical leap forward, providing a new format for interactive entertainment that meets the increasing demands of our core audiences: advertisers, location operators and consumers. EQ positions Ecast for growth within our existing hospitality vertical and beyond.”