Welcome to R&D's 2013 Trainees
Each September a new group of Trainee Research Technologists and Trainee Research Scientists joins BBC R&D, beginning a two year programme of on-the-job training, project work and courses. This year, we challenged our new recruits to spend their first two weeks designing and developing a novel way of accessing BBC content using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Take a look as 2013 Trainee, Peter Taylour, talks you through what they created:
A few weeks ago, we welcomed Rhianne Jones and Lianne Kerlin (Trainee Research Scientists) as well as Sam Bason, Tom Howe and Peter Taylour (Trainee Research Technologists) to the department. Our five new recruits were asked to spend their first two weeks working with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, with a brief to develop an immersive 'information browser' for BBC content.
The Rift headset features a binocular stereoscopic display and an accurate, low-latency head tracker. Whilst Rift-like devices are typically used for gaming, computer aided design and simulation activities, we wanted our trainees to try something different: Using the Rift to present a 3D information browser, capable of visualising BBC News content.
User Centered Design
Lianne and Rhianne worked to ensure the development of the prototype was user focused from the outset: Designing an intuitive interaction model and feeding a large amount of background research into the project.
We are calling the prototype which has emerged from this process 'NewsWorld'. In NewsWorld, the user appears to be standing in the center of a photorealistic globe, with news stories placed appropriately over their corresponding geographic area. Articles can be selected using head gestures and mouse buttons are then used to 'drill down' deeper into content as desired.
The trainees in action
Sam, Tom and Pete divided the tasks required to realise the design into three major areas:
-Content acquisition: How to obtain news articles with which to populate NewsWorld
-Graphics renderer: Written in C++ and using Qt
-Interfacing between the content acquirer and a graphics renderer
-Layer 2 shows the set of news articles at each location, represented by photos.
-Layer 3 shows summary text about a specifically selected article, alongside more photos.