Prototyping with BBC News Labs and R&D

How the News Labs team collaborated with R&D to create the Window on the Newsroom prototype

Matt Shearer, innovation manager at BBC News Labs, describes prototyping as the process of developing something quickly and with a minimal set of features. The News Labs team gets together regularly to discuss potential ideas and new technology. From these brainstorming sessions, one or two goals are decided on for a prototype. This is then built into a minimum viable product, or MVP.

“Very quickly building something, very quickly testing it and very quickly learning from it” – Matt Shearer

The head of internet research and future services within R&D, George Wright describes this process as the best way to test a hypothesis. Paper-based and lab-based testing can only achieve so much. Putting a prototype into a real pair of hands, in a situation where failure is expected, is often necessary.

One of the prototypes being developed by News Labs is called Window on the Newsroom. Rob Liddle from News Projects explains its purpose of bringing content from several different production systems into one place. As workflows in the news room shift to more story-centric working, this tool will help journalists easily access the best content, be it clips of audio and video, or articles.

Demonstrating the prototype Miles Bernie, lead technologist, BBC News Technology, reveals the underlying mechanics. Existing R&D tools, called COMMA and Mango assist in tagging content so that it is searchable. Automatic speaker recognition and audio transcription help to make relevant content as discoverable as possible.