Research & Development

Posted by Matt Haynes 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.

With the August bank holiday and half of the team taking annual leave I was concerned we'd have little to report this week, thankfully my fears were unfounded!


Andrew, Chris L, Dan and Libby have been working for a sprint on the Radiodan project - the hackable, IP connected radio device running on a RaspberryPi.

It sounds like the team have made some significant improvements in the device's handling of WIFI connectivity, which is often a difficult step in setting up any connected device without a keyboard and screen.

Amongst other things the code has been improved and abstracted into a Rubygem, and improved button handling has been added along with other bug fixes. Access to more content has been sourced from BBC Radio and Music's Shoutcast streams and the team is gearing up for a presentation at on the 9th September.

Code in a day

Zillah took part in one of Decoded's "Code in a day" courses. She described it as a brilliant experience that will help her to understand and appreciate some of the topics that us programmers here discuss.

During the course Zillah created a web app to display your distance from our new offices. Having a sneaky peek through the source code I see use of the HTML5 geolocation API and an implementation of the haversine formula, pretty impressive for your first day of coding!

Visual search with BBC Your Paintings

This week Rob presented the work that Oxford University have been doing around painting recognition to the Your Paintings team. Max Jaderberg of Oxford's Visual Geometry Group has created a novel approach to locating images of paintings within footage and for the real-time detection of paintings from visual input devices.

We presented the results of searching for paintings from the Public Catalogue Foundations 200,000 paintings dataset within a month's worth of BBC footage.

Cosmos Project

Tristan has been in meetings with Warwick University to discus the Cosmos Project, a project to crowdsource the analysis of social media, partly informed by the World Service Archive project.

IBC 2013

Chris Newell and Libby have been busy preparing equipment and software for the ViSTA-TV project demonstration at IBC 2013, the International Broadcasting Convention held in Amsterdam on 13-17 September. Come and see our work on real-time IPTV audience analysis and recommendations on stand 8.G39.

Yves and Dominic have also been preparing a demonstration of Automatic Broadcast Content Interlinking from the ABC-IP project. This will be shown on BBC R&D’s own dedicated stand, 8.G44, which will be showing a range of demonstrations. Both stands are located in the IBC Future Zone.

TV White-space

I have been in some discussions with Chris and Mark from R&D's Distribution and Core Technologies section around potential participation in Ofcom's TV White-space pilot. This is an important subject for the BBC to keep abreast of, not only because of it's potential to affect DVB transmission but also because new White-space devices could introduce a whole range of interesting ways to access our content in the home and on the move.


Yves added accurate timings to our livetopics API, for an experiment Knowledge & Learning and TV & iPlayer are running with Metabroadcast.

Gitlab 6

The department uses git exclusively for version control and we share our internal projects using Gitlab, with the new release Chris L has been busy updating our installation.


Yves has been preparing for his i-semantics keynote next week. He'll also be chairing a session there, and recording for an (Austrian) radio programme - should be fun!

Tristan had been researching suitable conferences and journals for the research we are writing on the World Service Archive.

Matt Shearer talked about News Labs at the team meeting and gave us the heads up on their upcoming hackathon.

Link of the week

Courtesey of Andrew N, an article on the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum's first software acquisition and the questions that arise.