Posted by Andrew Nicolaou on , last updated

Welcome to the regular update from the Internet Research & Future Services team in BBC R&D, making new things on, for and with the internet. Also on Twitter at @bbcirfs.

Walls Have Eyes

Andrew, Libby (and Jasmine from the R&D North Lab) spent a lot of time setting up, bug fixing and snagging the Walls Have Eyes installation at the Design Museum in London. We've learnt a lot about taking an installation that works for a few hours when someone's looking after it and turning into something that can work reliably for months without intervention. This has included ensuring the application restarts when it crashes, that sellotape isn't the best way to stick stuff together and that modern tablets use up a lot of internet data when you're not looking. Libby has a scrapbook of our journey on her blog.

Libby also spent a couple of days merging all the parts of the installation into a single unit, codenamed Surveillance Owl. It was an experiment to explore the processing power of the new Raspberry Pi 2 computer which is able to do motion detection and tracking using the opencv library.

MediaScape and Cross Platform Authentication

Libby, Chris and Sean are soon travelling into the Arctic Circle for a MediaScape EU project meeting. In preparation Libby has been updating the project admin and looking through the partner organisation's code.

Chris N and Sean have been in discussions with members of the EBU CPA group about integrating a flow for mobile devices. This has included doing a re-evaluation of CPA in comparison to OAuth 2.0.


Our open source toolchain for processing and visualising audio data in the browser continues to be updated in response to user feedback. Chris N has updated the audiowaveform component to work with floating point format WAV files. It's nice to see the software being used, and generating valuable feedback to help us improve it. 


Dan, Chris N and Andrew N met with Tomas from TomTain to discuss an embedded linux distribution that packages up our work on projects like Radiodan and The Walls Have Eyes. It’s coming along nicely and should make rolling out new versions of devices that much easier.

Dan's been preparing devices and documentation for BBC NewsLabs ahead of a Connected Studio / World Service event.

Chris Needham continued work on VLC player integration with Radiodan, adding code to poll VLC for status changes, so we can generate event notifications.

Storyarc and Home Front

Michael and Chris G were reviewing the script upload feature for Storyarc with our development partner, MetaBroadcast. This feature will allow scripts to be up/downloaded from individual episodes of dramas in the system. Archived scripts from the Archers stored by the BBC's Internet & Archives and production departments will be batch uploaded into the system.

Michael had a trip to Birmingham to show the new bits of Storyarc to the production team and chat about the workflow. He was also thinking about URL structures.

The Home Front team have also been thinking about (and sometimes solving) the site structure, spoilers, representing long stories, how to test it, chopping up the audio, what to call things and Google fonts.


The Comma project, an Innovate UK-funded project came to an end recently and Tristan attended a close-out meeting with the funders.


Thomas joined the BBC's Global Experience Language Working Group to help them to release a version of GEL available through npm packages across the organisation. The group's planning to work together on code, tooling, documentation and releasing.


All members of the Devices team have been reviewing their work since they first formed 18 months ago and thinking about our priorities for the future. The team took others through the results and got some positive feedback on the framework they used. 

Atomised News

Barbara, Anthony and Tom have been working on two prototypes - the video-led app and the card-based app that have been populated with content crafted for each by a journalist in the BBC's News Video Innovation team. Malin and Joanne were heavily involved in the project for the past few weeks helping to prepare and run informal testing for the two prototypes. The aim was to catch usability issues to be fixed before testing with external participants. They've been planning how those sessions with users will be run and Joanne has been preparing a draft script for it.

They also looked at different ways to generate ideas in workshops and Barbara, Joanne, Malin and Tom did a test workshop. Interesting techniques and very enjoyable workshop and some creative ideas came out of it!

Interesting links 

Daniel Davis of W3C has written a post on W3C's activities around Web and TV, and BBC R&D is currently participating in the TV Control API and Second Screen Presentation groups.

A paper from Microsoft Research, "OAuth Demystified for Mobile Application Developers"

Word.Camera makes a kind of nonsense essay based on what it recognises in a photo

Why has TV storytelling become so complex?

Look and Feel and Feel

Hacking Company Culture