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Testing RadioVIS

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Kat Sommers | 16:46 UK time, Monday, 14 March 2011

One of the projects we're working on in the R&D Prototyping team is RadioDNS, a technology that allows hybrid radios to deliver relevant interactive content while you listen to the radio over FM or DAB. Representatives from UK commercial radio James Cridland and Nick Piggott described the benefits of a technology such as this on the Radio Labs blog.

We've been working recently on RadioVIS, an application that uses RadioDNS to deliver over IP images and text messages corresponding to the radio broadcast.

An example of a RadioVIS slide for Radio 2.

Chris Needham previously posted about our initial experiments and a Python client that allows you to see the content without having the requisite radio device.

We're now ready to test a prototype and get your feedback.

It is not yet a live service for all BBC radio stations, though we hope to be able to trial that soon. For the time being we want it to be opt-in only, so you'll need to make a small change to your internet setup if you want to see it.

Changing the settings on your radio
Owners of RadioDNS-enabled hybrid radios can see this prototype by changing the device's network settings to use our test DNS server. Currently the only RadioDNS-enabled radio on the market is the Pure Sensia, but we hope prototypes such as this show the potential for this technology. There are also details of a free software emulator below.

To change DNS settings on your Pure Sensia:
1) Press the "Manual" button on your device's 'Network Settings' screen
2) Change DNS server to
3) Manually set an IP address, net mask and router IP address

You should then be able to see RadioVIS content by tuning to BBC radio stations as normal. It is important to note that changing DNS settings will not disrupt access to other broadcasters' RadioDNS services.

Viewing on your desktop
Alternatively, if you do not own a RadioDNS-enabled radio, you can view the prototype by downloading our Python client. It has been updated inline with the latest RadioVIS spec, and is available to download from our GitHub page.

To connect to our RadioVIS prototype:
1) Install and start the application as described in the README document
2) Select prototype0.net instead of radiodns.org in the 'Domain' field
3) Select a BBC radio station in the 'Hostname' field
4) Click Resolve
5) If you use a proxy server to access the web (for example if you're on a company's internal network), tick both the 'Use proxy server' boxes
6) Click Connect. An image and text from the selected radio station should appear immediately.

This is currently only a prototype, and we cannot therefore guarantee the availability of our RadioVIS service at all times.

We will post again on this blog when this test is due to end, so that you can restore your device's original DNS settings.

We welcome any feedback on this test of a RadioVIS service. We are particularly interested in how the service is operating: are slides showing? Do they represent the programme or radio station you are listening to? Do they update regularly?

Once we've ascertained the system is working correctly, we'd also like to know what you think of these images. Are they useful or interesting? Do they enhance the experience of listening to BBC radio? Are there other types of information you would like to see?

Please send all feedback to prototyping@bbc.co.uk, or via the RadioVIS developers' list.

If this prototype is successful, we hope to move to a short-term live trial in the next few months.



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