Research & Development

Posted by Libby Miller on

These are the weeknotes from Internet Research and Future Services, a team in BBC R&D. This week: Peaky Blinders prototype launch, a hackday, and Click Radio VR / 360 expertise.

We work in three main areas: Discovery, Data and Experiences.

Discovery is about finding and processing media-related data from multiple sources, and creating internal and external facing applications using that data. This processing can include figuring out the main protagonist of a news story (a step up from entity recognition, which is finding mentions of people or things in a story), data source choice and management, maintenance and monitoring of the infrastructure, evaluation of the precision of the tools we're using, and user testing. Last week the Discovery team were invited to participate with our colleagues from Radio and Music (R&M) in their monthly developer Hack Day. A lot of the resulting hacking was around ways to plug in our ability to search for content from all around the web with the R&M personalisation APIs and artist pages - resulting in a few sketches and prototype code on how to surface articles based on an artist, a playlist or other interests.

Some of the tools Discovery use day to day are based on those originally created in the Data team, who work on low-level tools for processing text, audio and video. This week, Tom did some analysis of audio from BBC radio and TV programmes including the breakdown of music/speech/noise within a subsection of hand annotated audio, while Jana was able to move the CODAM video fingerprinting search engine to lower-power machines because of the work she and Ben have done optimising it. The team also visited IBM Research in Hursley, where they were hosted by the Emerging Technology team, led by Dr Peter Waggett. Matt says "we had a great day of demos and discussions - some of the highlights were a demo of IBM Watson @ Wimbledon, the Synapse chip and Node Red."

Meanwhile, the Experiences team are looking at near-term experiences for reading and watching the news on the web, and ways of catching up on programmes by exploring the stories and characters around them, and also looking further ahead to the future of TV experiences. The stories team are very excited about the launch of the Peaky Blinders catch up prototype on Taster (see picture above), which was created by Andrew and Tristan with James Jefferies and Richard Jones and is based on the same infrastructure as the conceptually-similar Homefront prototype. The "Atomised news" team are making a pilot for Newsbeat and Taster and are heads-down working on that. Codename "Tellybox" are testing a Topic Guide written by Joanne to work out patterns of negotiation for watching TV with others, while Henry worked with Click Radio on the World Service for their episode on 360 video and VR, with Zillah appearing on the show as a panel expert.


Zillah's Turning Forest was in Wired's best VR films of Tribeca

"Tilt Brush lets you paint in 3D space with virtual reality"

Taking a line for a walk - an interesting drawing app (in html) with different "brushes"

Chrome Music Lab - experiments in rhythm, tone and melody using the Web Audio API (via Chris Lowis' Web Audio Weekly newsletter)