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Prototyping Weeknotes #94 (30 Jan ~ 3 Feb 2012)

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Olivier Thereaux | 16:01 UK time, Friday, 3 February 2012

Welcome to issue 94 of our team's weeknotes. 94, of course, is the atomic number of Plutonium, but also the identifier of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's form for which first question has had me pondering the meaning of “moral turpitude” for the past ten years or so.

This week's featured project is NoTube a 13-partner EU-funded research project about the future of Web and TV, which came to a formal end this week after three years. It involved collaborations with other broadcasters, universities, and small and large companies in Europe and Korea. 

NScreen screenshot

Recently Vicky and Libby have been finalising the functionality of an application called N-Screen built within the project.

N-Screen is a second-screen web application for small groups of people, to help them choose what to watch and enable them to interact with their TV using drag and drop. Recent user testing suggested some user experience changes, and they have also been integrating some LIMO annotation-based functionality. There's a screenshot of it below, or you can try a version of it containing the wonderful TED content.

Nscreen with TED content

This week Vicky has been finalising some user testing plans and working on a longer blogpost for this site, and Libby has been getting the N-Screen code in good order for Open Source release.

N-Screen uses standards-based software throughout, and the result is a mixture of Javascript, HTML and XMPP front-end (using strophe.js and jQuery UI) and eJabberd group XMPP chats as the backend for the system. Dropping or clicking actions in the HTML / Javascript front end trigger XMPP messages to groups or participating individuals which then perform certain pre-defined actions. Dragging a programme onto a TV sends a message to TVs in the channel to play the video, but dragging it onto a person sends it to that person so they can see more about it. Further actions can be defined, such as a bot that can give you recommendations.

Weekend hach: NoTube remote control

With Dan Brickley (a NoTube colleague from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Libby created a library called buttons.js which wraps some of the complexities of passing XMPP messages of particular types such as ('play this programme' or 'share this programme with Olivier') into a simple API. This week she created a very quick prototype to confirm that buttons.js is reusable: a 'shake to randomise' Phonegap-based application. She's also been working on an evenings-and-weekends project which shows that it can also be used with a much more constrained User Interface - a project sharing a number of use cases with our colleagues' work on the Universal Control API.

Libby and Vicky will continue to wrap up the project until the final formal EU evaluation in late March, and part of that will be making sure that the work is documented and reusable. NoTube continues to blog at http://notube.tv.


In other news...

A lot has been happening on the FI-Content front. Pete has been working on the wireframes for the dashboard application with which the project will be testing a number of assumptions around privacy and user data management, and Barbara has been working with the project partners on the bookplan, timescales and text for next deliverable document. Meanwhile, Joanne started the recruitment process for a user trial where participants will record what BBC TV they have watched on a certain day. The study will be based on a diary app which Duncan and Andrew built in record time.

Speaking of recruitment, Tristan, Theo and ChrisG have been drowning in interviews of applicants for our new producer.

Chris Lowis, Dan and Sean have been focusing on RadioTAG, working on some enhancements in time for the EBU Radio Week events on the 13th, including a RadioTAG-focused workshop at the RadioHack day. They have also been tidying up documentation and preparing a distribution of the RadioTAG servers for people to install themselves.

... and finally a link, courtesy of Dan: A full BASIC programming environment for the Nintendo DS. In Japanese...

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