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Rowe Downloads V2.6 To AMI-Powered Jukeboxes; Expands Software Development Center In Chicago

Posted On: 3/15/2007

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- Rowe International Corp. last month began deploying new system software to jukeboxes running on the AMI Entertainment Network. Dubbed Version 2.6, the upgrade features content screens enhancing the customer's music selection experience and expanded diagnostic modules aiding the operator in several critical service tasks.

The software enhancement introduces three music library search screens to improve the point-of-sale experience for the patron: New AMI Music, the latest albums added to the network; Hot Music, a collection of the most popular songs played on jukeboxes connected to the AMI Entertainment Network; and All Music, all content available in AMI's growing music library.

"Improving how the jukebox patron selects music from a jukebox is one way to help increase per-machine earnings," said John Margold, Rowe's senior vice-president of sales and marketing. "The AMI music library presently offers some 334,000 songs on 26,350 albums."

The New AMI Music list displays all music, on a jukebox's touchscreen, added to the AMI music library in the past 30 days. This list, also accessible by selecting the search or Music on Demand (MOD) buttons, only appears on boxes with active Internet connections.

The Hot Music button not only displays locally stored albums and album graphics, but also shows the 18,000-plus singles stored in a hard drive's cache. If an Internet connection is lost, the New AMI Music button disappears, but the MOD button remains and will show the Hot Music list, when selected. The Hot list also assists patrons who can't remember songs by displaying only the popular songs on an album.

Likewise, when a patron enters the All Music record, which is the default display when choosing an album from the search screen, the Hot Music button also appears. By selecting the Hot button, only music on AMI's top 18,000 list comes into view. This can help patrons identify popular songs.

The V2.6 software also includes new diagnostic screens for four vital service mode tests: payment systems; input/output; audio/video; and jukebox "health" status. Some of these new onscreen service functions were suggested to Rowe engineers by leading music operators.

The credit device service screen enables the testing of a bill validator, coin acceptor and credit card reader without generating credits on the jukebox, and without reporting test activity to the AMI server. In this screen, operators enter the amount of money for testing, and no record is made of that test credit and no fee calculated for settlement on the AMI network. Another new screen related to crediting allows the jukebox operator to configure and combine AMI subscription and off-the-top allowances during collection periods.

The new screen for input/output tests provides feedback from input pushbuttons on the Rowelink, or communications, controller board. In this screen, operators activate the test mode by turning the "calibrate" button on; they continue the test by pointing the IR remote at the box and pressing any button, which instructs the screen mode to display which button on the remote was pressed. Here, the test meter prompts an optional hard meter to pulse while the test router resets, causing the router power to be cycled off.

In the audio/video service mode screen, a jukebox serviceman can play an audio test track and simultaneously adjust the parameters of Studio Sound, Rowe's audio system capable of delivering sound to four zones with up to 2,000W. of audio. The service screen also provides purity, convergence and color bar images for adjusting a jukebox's monitor. In a separate feature related to audio, an automatic reset restores preset volume levels on jukeboxes equipped with Studio Sound after the jukebox has been turned off for a period.

The "health" status service screen displays and assesses the conditions of various critical system parameters to ensure that the best possible jukebox environment is maintained. Among these are CPU and cabinet temperatures, power supply voltages and cooling fan speeds.

In a separate announcement, Rowe said it has expanded and made key staff appointments to the Chicago-area software development center of its AMI Entertainment division.

The center, which opened one year ago, focuses on maintaining and enhancing the AMI Entertainment Network, which administers music services for digital jukeboxes. The primary focus of the center is the development of the website from which jukebox operators can monitor and update their jukebox clients: amientertainment.net. In addition, the center develops such back-office software functions as invoicing, royalty payments and processing music feeds from record labels, among other things required of a digital music provider.

The AMI software center is headed by Ron Richards, vice-president of software engineering, who joined the company in June 2005. His staff boasts top-level engineers who possess experience in producing enterprise-class software for such Fortune 500 companies as eBay, Nestlé, Semantic, Ford Motor Co., IBM and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. They are Dan Garrett, architect and director, Marc Saegesser, John Groppe, Mary Grygleski, Eran Loewenthal and Jesse Buck.

This Chicago-area team works closely with AMI's jukebox client, quality assurance and operations teams, all of which are based at Rowe's headquarters in Grand Rapids, MI.

"To meet the growing demands of the AMI network," Richards said, "Rowe set out to recruit a team with proven capability in building a robust communications software system. We located the development center in suburban Chicago to take advantage of the area's historic expertise in communication software. With local employers such as Motorola, Lucent and the world's largest options exchange, the Chicago area contains a deep pool of talent from which to recruit."

In early 2006, the AMI network began to show the stress associated with a successful growing network, Richards observed. "The expanding AMI music library and growing number of jukeboxes connecting to the network caused the AMI website to become sluggish at times," he explained. "The new team came along just in time to address these growing pains."

Within six months of forming the new team, Rowe/AMI implemented a number of performance improvements to the AMI Web client. These initiatives rolled out over the summer and by early fall, dramatically improved the speed of selecting local music for the jukebox. The team is now busy at work enhancing the new AMI website, scheduled to launch later this year. The enhanced site will further improve the operator's ability to configure music and will allow Rowe/AMI to support the anticipated rapid growth of its jukebox network over the next several years.