The Sounds of Commerce Is a Smash Hit at Moogfest

Nanette George

Nanette George

What do two Italian engineer-musicians have in common with Oracle + Bronto? They want to do what our team did with commerce data, MIDI and microcontrollers to turn space-station data into sight and sound.

The interested pair were just two of the estimated 1,500 visitors who stopped by to hear and interact with our display, “The Sounds of Commerce,” at Moogfest 2017 on downtown Durham’s American Tobacco Campus. Created by a cross-departmental team of Brontos, the display showcased the volume and scale of the data we manage for some of the world’s top internet retailers.

To create the installation, the team took anonymized commerce data from the busiest retail week of the year – Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and converted email sends, opens, clicks and conversions into time-stamped data. Then, using open source software, they turned each event into a sound. Visuals were added and data points were mapped to four handmade boxes with microcontrollers that communicated the actions of buttons, levers and touchpads that festival-goers used to manipulate the lights and sounds.

“So, I can hear my emails?” one visitor asked. Yes, we said. You can even groove to them!

Moogfest attracts technology, music and art lovers from across the country to geek out on how the three mediums can be used to create sounds and sights that soothe and invigorate the soul. General Manager Carolyn Sparano conceived and led our Moogfest installation project, which checked the box on all three of its goals: to support the Durham community, provide a creative outlet for employees and share the scope of our work with big data to attract new talent to the company.

It was a great success. Engineers explored the technology we used for the installation, asked questions about our use of open source software and peered inside the control boxes to see how we’d mapped the sound to hardware. Delighted children ventured in to see our giant inflatable brontos and play with the controller buttons.

Recent college graduates came to see the display and find out if we’re hiring. One bright young engineer, impressed with our creativity and application of technology to create the installation, applied for a job with Oracle + Bronto the next day.

We plan to take the installation on the road to customer events in the coming year, so stay tuned for more news about The Sounds of Commerce!


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