Archives for August 2010

Pulling related web content into a live TV stream

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Andrew Littledale Andrew Littledale | 16:16 UK time, Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Like everyone else, we have been wondering what set top boxes connected to the internet will look like for the user. What kind of interfaces will work best when TV and the web become bedfellows?

We decided to mock up a prototype application to play around with some user interface ideas.

The most useful application we could think of was something that would provide web content that was relevant to what was being talked about on TV.

So we created a Flash application that pulls in live subtitles from an IRC channel and places them underneath a live feed of News 24. Thanks very much to Andrew McParland and his team in R&D for making the subtitles available.

As the subtitles appear on the screen they are sent off to a natural language processing API and relevant concepts are extracted from the text (and in our case returned as DBpedia terms).

When the concepts come back from the API they are placed over the EMP on the left of the picture. We've mapped these terms to BBC News content and clicking on them reveals links on the right. Clicking on these opens up the web page in a new tab.

It needs a bit of work. Sometimes the concepts returned are a little random and it would be good to filter them. We also need to come up with a scalable way of using the subtitles. Both things are doable.

It would also be possible to tailor the application to link to specific parts of At the moment we are just linking to News but it could be that we linked to GCSE Bitesize so that students could find Learning content that was relevant to stuff they were watching on TV.

With Google TV launching in the Autumn and Canvas next year expect to see more interfaces like this soon.


This video shows the application working with a live stream from News 24

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Further information

If you would like more information about this prototype please contact We hope to demo it at the The Media Festival Arts next month.

Please visit us at

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