Radio Northampton trials augmented reality

Bernie Keith about to blow a dandelion in the Northamptonshire countryside Presenter Bernie Keith shows why he loves Long Buckby in the new videos

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Having already filmed mini-documentaries with a smartphone, Radio Northampton is continuing to experiment in new technology by dabbling in augmented reality (AR).

The latter means users can view content on their phones or tablets, when the devices are held over images that are designed to trigger extra material, such as videos or map directions.

"It works a bit like a QR code, where you put your phone in front of the code and it takes you to a website," explains Radio Northampton drivetime presenter Rob Adcock, who has been overseeing the project.

The station is using AR as part of a promotional campaign on their Facebook page.

Sporting chance

Presenters have been filmed entirely on iPhones for short videos, in which they show their favourite places in Northamptonshire.

Anyone who downloads an AR app and then places their phone or tablet over the station's logo or iPlayer pages can then watch the videos, which are also available on Facebook.

But AR is also being used to promote extra content for Radio Northampton's rugby coverage.

The station's summarisers Ian Hunter and Lennie Newman, who used to play for Northampton Saints, have presented a video about their memories of the Franklin's Gardens stadium.

"So when there's 10,000 people sitting in the stadium on Saturday and they've got their Radio Northampton notes in the programme, they can put their phone over them and it'll play that exclusive video," adds Adcock.

He reckons AR opens a "massive world of possibilities for local radio".

"That's the reason why we want to see how well it works and how popular it could be… The exciting thing for us is that every local station has massive sporting teams around them."

Positive feedback

The presenter doubles up as a BBC Introducing host for Radio Stoke and decided to try out AR after interviewing an unsigned band.

"They gave out their EP and if you put your phone over the back of it, a video plays of them singing."

Although Radio 1 and BBC Worldwide have produced some AR content, Adcock is not aware of other BBC outlets that have produced as much exclusive output as Radio Northampton.

The videos have attracted positive feedback from Facebook users, especially for mid-morning presenter Bernie Keith's reflections on the countryside, which prompted some affectionately tongue-in-cheek comments on the website.

"AR apps are something that will soon become standard on all smartphones," says Adcock.

"In 15 years, it could be the way to do exclusive content or get people to your Facebook page."

  • An example of how AR works can be seen here and the smartphone videos are available on BBC Northampton's Facebook page

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