BBC launches User Experience Research Partnership

By bringing together a world-class team of experts from academia and BBC R&D, we aim to stimulate innovation that not only benefits the BBC and our audiences, but also the wider industry."Matthew Postgate, Controller, BBC R&D
Date: 18.07.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.04
The BBC today announced the BBC User Experience Research Partnership, a long-term collaboration project between BBC Research and Development (BBC R&D) and leading universities in the fields of User Experience and Human Computer Interaction research.

The academic partners will be The University of Bath, The University of Dundee, UCL (University College London), Newcastle University, The University of Nottingham and Swansea University, which have all committed to support the initiative for at least four years.

Through large-scale pilots and prototypes, the partnership will explore the potential of new forms of content and interaction in a multi-platform world, alongside new ways of producing media that will help make content more accessible to all audiences. The research outcomes will be shared with the industry to encourage wider audience-focused innovation, help define open standards and support the creative industries in producing engaging content in the future.

The technical scope of the partnership covers:

  • The User Experience of an IP Broadcasting System: developing user-centred services across multiple platforms to help advance public service broadcasting in the digital age
  • Designing for New Interaction: Moving beyond gesture and voice to develop new ways of controlling and displaying digital content for more natural and engaging interfaces
  • Sustainable Approaches to User Capability: Allowing the industry to meet the changing needs of older users, young children and people with disabilities in accessing digital media
  • New Production Interface Technologies: Using novel interface and interaction technologies in new ways to give production teams the most creative and effective ways to craft new forms of content

The initiative builds on BBC R&D’s strong history of industry and academic collaboration, which includes the Audio Research Partnership and a strategic partnership with UCL, by establishing another centre of excellence for research into areas of strategic importance to the BBC and the wider industry.

Matthew Postgate, Controller of BBC R&D, says: “This is an exciting partnership that allows us to explore how audiences could engage with new types of content in the future, and how we can better make it available to them. By bringing together a world-class team of experts from academia and BBC R&D, we aim to stimulate innovation that not only benefits the BBC and our audiences, but also the wider industry.”

Professor Stanton Fraser of The University of Bath says: "The University of Bath brings a strong base of interdisciplinary Human Computer Interaction research to this partnership. We are excited about sharing expertise, and university researchers will be based both at Bath and at MediaCityUK from next month, studying new content around children's experience."

Professor Hanson of The University of Dundee, says: "At the University of Dundee we are thrilled to be involved in this unique new venture. We see this as a fantastic opportunity to provide innovative digital technologies that not only excite people, but which also are usable by a diverse population. With much of our work focused on enhancing usability for older adults and people who are disabled, we see this new collaboration as an important and powerful means to provide digital technologies that can meet the diverse needs of the population."

Professor Rogers of UCL says: “We are very excited to be part of the BBC UX network and believe our research agenda at the UCL Interaction Centre will enable new synergistic opportunities, especially exploring the intersection between novel interfaces and social interactions.”

Professor Olivier of Newcastle University, says: “This partnership is a genuinely unique opportunity for the UK, in that it allows us to bring together internationally recognised user-experience researchers and the world's leading public broadcasting organisation. This high level of concentration of expertise is exactly what we need in order to both understand and have a real impact on the future of broadcast media production and consumption.”

Professor Benford of The University of Nottingham says: “This centre provides a unique opportunity to transform how we experience television in the new world of tablets, phones and online.”

Professor Jones of Swansea University says: “Designing for person scale is essential in a world of big data. We’re excited and delighted by the prospects of working with BBC R&D and the excellent universities in this partnership to help shape compelling, interactive content experiences that are driven by this human factor.”

DT