Profile: research scientist

Liz Valentine-House on her role as a research scientist for BBC Research and Development

Having taught Multimedia Technology and Design at Canterbury University, Liz Valentine-House says she finds research and development an ideal mid-point between the academic and commercial worlds. After working as a freelance web developer for several years, Liz joined the BBC in 2010 as a research scientist for the user experience branch of BBC R&D.

Liz’s role is to research how people interact with media, and how they use both physical and digital technology. Her team undertakes a variety of projects to improve media accessibility: they have worked with the RNID writing guidelines for programme makers on volume of background music, while another recent project was to design and build a TV controller for people with cerebral palsy.

“I'm interested in how people will be interacting with technology in five years time” - Liz Valentine-House

Liz and her team are currently working on a project to improve subtitles for TV viewers, which involves tests using eye tracking technology. This allows researchers to observe where people’s eyes travel when they are watching a subtitled programme, and to consider how subtitles could be placed or formatted better. This might mean enabling users to choose where and how subtitles appear, so they can personalise their viewing experience to best suit their needs.

Liz has also worked with CBeebies on the redesign of their website and mobile games, where she gained useful insight into how best to conduct research with children. She hopes to continue her career progression within R&D, as she enjoys working in a field that is both technical and creative.