It’s hard to find anyone in Moscow—child or adult—who hasn’t heard of the toy store on Lubyanka Square. In 2008, the beloved shop closed its doors with the goal of updating and enhancing the interior while retaining the architectural integrity of the facade.
The Central Children’s Store reopened on March 31, 2015 with a new name and a complete digital makeover. At the heart of the renovation, however, is new technology that transformed the toy store into a magical wonderland for shoppers of all ages.
“This is a hugely ambitious project with many different components — interactive zones, digital navigation, infomercial displays and more,” says a spokesperson for Auvix, a Russian audiovisual company that worked on the project with systems integrator SEAN.
One of the biggest changes to the store involved implementing a digital signage system that features 600 screens, 200 players and more than 30 video walls.
This digital signage isn’t the average downtown billboard with rotating soda advert. At the Central Children’s Store, the signage helps shoppers navigate the six floors that house children’s merchandise, a toy museum and an enormous food court, complete with a play area and a panoramic viewpoint that looks over the Kremlin and Lubyanka Square.
The digital signage also encourages kids to check out the child-size city “Kidburg” and other must-see attractions.
Touchscreen kiosks with visitor-controlled interactive maps of the entire store help shoppers find what they’re looking for, and the interface is simple enough that the store’s target audience—children—can find their way around, too.
Along the corridors, visitors will notice 55-inch screens playing bright, child-friendly video clips that add to the store’s cheerful ambience.
These screens are connected to Intel NUC mini PCs with Intel Core i5 processors, which means viewers enjoy high-resolution video output. The mini PCs were also a good fit because they’re small, noiseless and durable—perfect for a system located around rambunctious children.
The atrium, which was previously two stories high, now spans all six floors following the makeover. Visitors are welcomed by the store’s mascot—a teddy bear named Rosya—appearing in various guises on large-format video walls installed between the arches.
Perhaps the most popular and impressive enhancement, however, are the store’s many interactive zones. Located on virtually every floor, shoppers can have their photo taken against a backdrop of famous Russian tourist attractions or paint Alice in Wonderland characters and bring them to life.
The educational zone offers a variety of games. Visitors can use the Central Children’s Store smartphone app to let a digital fish swim off into a virtual aquarium or collect minerals on the surface of Mars in a space arcade game.
Of all the magical experiences visitors can expect at the Central Children’s Store, however, one of the biggest feats is that the system runs seamlessly.
“We created a unique multilevel control system,” explained Auvix’s spokesperson, “ featuring PADS4 content management software in a layer solution based on Windows Embedded, a private cloud, and Intel AMT and vPro technologies to allow remote access to all players.”
This means that employees can check the operating system remotely and correct any technological mishaps before anyone notices. Or as sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke aptly put it,”any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”