Posted by Dan Nuttall 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.

This week in weeknotes: The Internet of LEDs, Frankenpins and short-haul European flights. We also speak about the World Service on the World Service.

Internet of Pis

One of the goals of our Internet of Things project is to bring the Internet to unusual devices. Chris Newell has been using a Raspberry Pi to control a large moving message display (pictured above) and present a continuous stream of BBC tweets. The longer term objective is to build a general purpose interface for this type of display, making it easier for developers to build web-based applications.

Andrew made some progress on Frankenpins, a Ruby library that allows you to easily connect and program physical buttons and dials to your Raspberry Pi. It’s a problem we identified during our previous Radiodan sprint and we want to make easier. He’s hoping to release it for others to use soon and then add different types of “things” such as RGB LEDs.

World Service Archive

Gareth is still working hard on making the World Service Archive as useful as possible by making our search results for programmes facetable by decades. He’s pushing our Elasticsearch server to its limits, to the point at which he's found a few bugs in their system which have been reported.

Yves and Tristan made an appearance on the World Service programme Click discussing the prototype. Hopefully we can add this programme to the archive soon and then we can find metadata on us talking about finding metadata.


This week James and Chris Needham have been working on the COMMA system for cloud-based media processing. They’ve been experimenting with Amazon’s Simple Workflow Service as a way to manage distribution of processing jobs to worker machines, and got an initial prototype working.

Vista TV

Several of us participated in a workshop about what we might build for the final deliverables in the VistaTV project. We spent some time working out what kind of technical and design prototyping we might do to come up with an exciting second screen application that uses live data about BBC TV and Radio services.

Web Archiving

Olivier gave our team a private alpha (in English) of a conference talk (in French) on “the rusty web” - on the effect of time on information, on what that means for the management of information on the web, and why (almost) everyone looking at the concepts of decay, preservation and patina of digital artefacts has it all wrong. Everyone now thinks he’s mad, which means he might be on to something.

Euro Watch

A week of Euro-firsts, as Sean Chaired the inaugural meeting of the TVP Cross Platform Authentication project group in Geneva, meanwhile Matt P was soaking up the initial OpenNebula Conference in Berlin.