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Sony – SonyStyle Manhattan – Listening Stations

by DigitalDoyle

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This was a huge interactive kiosk project and I got to work with some amazingly talented people to make it happen.

I, along with Justin Leger, Al Podrasky, Joe Schuch of BakerAudio, Dave Spencer, and many many others at Sony and Eagle River, helped develop and program the interactive software for the listening stations on display and in use at that time in the SonyStyle store on Madison Ave, Manhattan, New York.

The listening stations are 27 kiosks networked together to a central server. The info that the users interact with is fed in from a SQL database. The audio is piped in from a huge bank of Sony CD changers in the back room. The software talks to the changers and lets the users control them remotely. It’s all pretty seamless. Each kiosk can play up to 300 different music CDs while showing information about the selected artist, the cover of the CD, and any other recordings done by that artist, (and which are also just a click away from being played).

The system was pretty smart. We built the front end in Director and Justin Leger and I programmed it to talk to bar code scanners so that people could pick a CD from the rack, scan the barcode and listen to that CD. The scanner would trigger an event via serial cable that our program would pick up and use to query the SQL database to get the data for that CD, and part of that was the tray location for the CD in the physical player. The server would send back the data and our program would update the display for the user and trigger off a little device that would let us send commands to the changers and have them cue up the CD.

I also programmed it so that we could remote in to the server from Sony Development’s Burbank offices and update the software in New York. Pretty slick system, and almost all of it analog. The next one we would build, in San Francisco, would be completely digital.

I can remember spending several late nights in a warehouse in New Jersey, where the kiosks and fixtures for the store were being fabricated, unwrapping hundreds upon hundreds of shrink wrapped CDs and putting them into those CD changers.

We were finishing out the software just before everything went live and had to work on saw horses with boards spanning them.

We did a little bit of everything on this job, from writing the software, to setting up the network, and cloning the physical machines. Interesting experience that I will never forget.

One of the coolest parts of this project was being flown to New York for 3 weeks to help set up the kiosks and get everything up and running. It was my first time in New York and it was an amazing experience. Got my first tastes of excellent dark beers in the historic taverns of New York, and was also introduced to the joys of sushi!

All the people at Sony were great. Took exceptionally good care of all of us. (Thanks for everything Al and Dave!)


So what can we do for you?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Schuch April 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm


No mention of me?



DigitalDoyle April 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Sorry ’bout that, Joe! So great to hear from you! Hope you’re doing well! I’ve corrected the post above. Also just moved the site to a new host last weekend and have been so busy that I still don’t have all the image links up and running yet. But they’re uploading now. I think you’re in one or two of the photos. That was back when both of us were just pups! 😉


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