Mike Armstrong (BSc(Eng))

Senior R&D Engineer

Mike Armstrong

Mike Armstrong is a Senior R&D Engineer, currently working in the area of object-based media and accessibility. He has been a longtime advocate of object based production and object based broadcasting and was instrumental in the creation of the first ever variable length radio programme. He is currently working on data modelling for the creation of object-based production tools.

Mike joined BBC Radio in London as an engineer in 1982 after graduating from University College London with a joint honours in Electronic Engineering and Computer Science. He then worked in BBC Local Radio in a number of roles, ending up at Bristol as the regional engineering manager for the West Region stations. Here he pioneered computer based broadcast systems, turning Radio Bristol into the BBC's first computer based radio station, integrating a Dalet playout system with BNCS control system and the BBC's first ENPS installation in the mid 1990s.

In 1999 Mike moved to BBC R&D where he started working on video coding for sign language, followed by work on video quality and capacity planning, contributing to the launch of Freeview. He then moved onto a team working on formats beyond HD including 3D TV and High Frame Rate Television. Through this work he has become an expert in human perception and its interaction with broadcast content.

In the past few years Mike was moved back to work on accessibility, initially looking at problems of speech audibility in television sound and has been part of BBC Academy's Sound Matters, a series of UK-wide events tour providing a presentation on audibility.

Over the past few years he has been leading BBC R&D's accessibility research, focusing on subtitling, developing methods to measure the quality of subtitles and methods for improving their quality and increasing their availability. This work has made a significant impact, both in encouraging changes to live subtitling to reduce delay and in challenging the whole approach to subtitle research across Europe and beyond. This work has resulted in the publication of seven papers in the past 12 months, and has brought the focus of subtitle research back onto to the needs of the audience.

His most recent work is aimed at automatically creating subtitles for web clips that have been taken from TV programmes and has assisted BBC Worldwide in providing subtitles for the recent Attenborough Story of Life app he has supported the ORPHEUS object based radio project where he worked on the audience experience.

External publications:


Automatic recovery and verification of subtitles for large collections of video clips IBC 2016 Conference, 2016


Online News Videos: The UX of Subtitle Position, Michael Crabb, Rhianne Jones, Mike Armstrong, Chris J Hughes, 2015/10/26, Proceedings of the 17th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers & accessibility, 215-222, ACM.

The Development of a Framework for Understanding the UX of Subtitles, Michael Crabb, Rhianne Jones, Mike Armstrong, 2015/10/26, Proceedings of the 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility, 347-348, ACM.

Understanding the Diverse Needs of Subtitle Users in a Rapidly Evolving Media Landscape, Mike Armstrong, Andy Brown, Michael Crabb, Chris Hughes, Rhianne Jones, James Sandford, 2015/9, IBC2015, IET.

Dynamic Subtitles: The User Experience, Andy Brown, Rhia Jones, Mike Crabb, James Sandford, Matthew Brooks, Mike Armstrong, Caroline Jay, 2015/6/3, Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences for TV and Online Video, 103-112, ACM.

Responsive design for personalised subtitles, Chris J Hughes, Mike Armstrong, Rhianne Jones, Michael Crabb, 2015/5/18, Proceedings of the 12th Web for All Conference, ACM.

Automatic Retrieval of Closed Captions for Web Clips from Broadcast TV Content, Chris Hughes, Mike Armstrong, 2015/4, NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference, NAB.


Object-based broadcasting-curation, responsiveness and user experience, Mike Armstrong, Matthew Brooks, Anthony Churnside, MEF Melchior, M Shotton, 2014/1, 12.2-12.2, IET Digital Library.

Enhancing Subtitles, Matthew Brooks, Mike Armstrong, TVX2014, 2014.


The Development of a Methodology to Evaluate the Perceived Quality of Live TV Subtitles, Mike Armstrong, 2013/1, 11.1-11.1, IET Digital Library.

Attention approximation: from the Web to multi-screen television. Jay, Harper, Brown, Glancy & Armstrong - paper at the CHI13 DigitalTV Workshop


R&D Blog post on Object Based Broadcasting, written in 2010


High frame-rate television, MG Armstrong, DJ Flynn, ME Hammond, SJE Jolly, RA Salmon, 2009/10/1, SMPTE motion imaging journal, V118, Issue 7, 54-59, The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.


Access Services for Digital Television: Matching the means to the requirement for audio description and signing IBC2000

UK Patent Application: Television Signal having high frame rate

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