Posted by Barbara Zambrini on , last updated

These are weekly notes from the Internet Research & Future Services team in BBC R&D where we share what we do. We work in the open, using technology and design to make new things on the internet. You can follow us on Twitter at @bbcirfs.

This week it's mostly about audio waveforms, user experience and architecture meetings, and binaural audio-only games demos.

This week's highlights have been the R&D All Staff meeting, Snippets improvements on waveform rendering and visualisation, and looking at...actually listening mobile games.

At this week's R&D All Staff meeting we've seen great technical expertise in action as IP Studio was used to host a three-way meeting between One Euston Square (1ES), Centre House and North labs - our own Matt P helped with setting it up and running it from the 1ES end. Six camera feeds (two per site) were multicast onto the R&D network allowing remote (or local) sites to subscribe to the feed and display it on local TVs. In addition, nine microphone and presentation audio channels were broadcast between the sites. Vision mixing and audio balancing could then be carried out locally.

In between dealing with contributions to reports from partners in the FI Content 2 project, I hosted a visit by Paul Bennun of Somethin' Else, who talked about binaural audio, their real-time binaural audio engine, and showed us the fantastic new features of Papa Sangre - Somethin' Else award-winning iOS audio-only game. Really interesting!!

We also carried on working on our current projects and doing exploratory work on others. Let's have a closer look.


Thomas, Chris Needham and Chris Finch have been working on radio programme waveform rendering and visualisation. Up to now, the data has been created using a webservice to generate the visual waveforms. Thomas extended the data abstraction to be able to produce the data from an audio file using the Web Audio API. In the future we should be able to provide waveforms only by relying on the playable audio data, in Snippets and the World Service Archive.

While Chris N, James, Matt H, and Dan have been designing a system to process MP3 audio from Redux to generate the waveform data, Thomas and Chris Finch are exploring a fine-grained dual waveform view to snip radio programmes at a hair's breadth precision. James has been figuring out a nice way to split disk reference related files up on disk, folder-structure wise, and working on some of the infrastructure to support the new ingest processing side.


The project is heading towards the end of the first workpackage and is starting to compile deliverables for the TSB. This week Yves, James, Chris N, and Tristan had a technical architecture meeting with the project's partners Somethin' Else and Kite.

Other activities:

  • Sam finished off the import of the linked data platform to a database called YAGO for use with named entity recognition and also finished the web API for mood based analysis of text
  • Libby has been working out how get all the audiences data from Glastonbury, initially in a form useful for other teams within the BBC, but also for us for a possible application for Vista-TV. Similar queries should be useful for some comparative data analysis in FI Content 2.
  • Yves polished the speaker identification technote - it's almost ready to be published
  • James has been soldering up some breakout boards and programming some RF modules, and thinking what to do at 
  • Andrew N and  Andrew W have been working on making a study for testing a series of programme recommenders. They also implemented a version of the BBC GEL responsive grid system in CSS. This is the first step to a library of patterns and components that the team will be building in the next few months
  • Olivier is preparing for a lecture/talk he's giving next week to the BBC Academy's "Production Masters" course. The lecture will be exploring many of the ways in which the internet disrupts the typical experience of broadcast media - using a few IRFS and R&D projects as illustrations
  • On Radiodan, Libby has been making last minute tweaks for Radiodan / Archers Avoider for, including a box design for laser cutting

Out and about

Interesting links: