BBC R&D

Posted by Ian Forrester on , last updated

Since we first launched the Perceptive Radio v1 in 2013 as a concept of what Perceptive Media (implicit interaction from sensors & data, adapting media objects) could become; the radio’s have always been a framework to explore further into adaptive object based media experiences. But we have always acknowledged the growing power of the smartphone and how it could be the container for so much more.

During building the second radio we were able to create a more scalable and sustainable radio project for demos by extending the sensors of a smartphone.

Both were clearly a PC in a box with sensors, although the first one did conjure up visions of traditional radio, thanks to its design. But the concepts were clearly never made for mass production. That original acknowledgment of the power of smartphones finally became irresistible as a platform for future research.

The average smartphone now has over 14 different sensors and its internet connectivity allows it plenty many more data points. On top of this, apps allows almost direct access to the smartphone APIs. It’s also clear how immense the power of smartphones are making audio manipulation is quite straightforward.

It is surprising no one hasn’t already explored this already?

Moving from the Perceptive Radio concepts into the realm of podcasting with a mobile app than allows for simple audio functionality based on data and sensors.

We adopted a core part of the W3C’s SMIL specification to enable others to start creating their own podcasts in a similar way. Our aim is to open source the prototype app, which will allow others to improve, extend and build on what we have started.

As it’s a prototype it only works with Android 5.x (lollipop) and upwards, which is pretty much every Android phone in the last 3 years (roughly 90% of Android devices). It was built by Chris Bergin, a MMU undergraduate completed his 3rd year Computer Science degree, while on summer work experience. Chris was introduced to Perceptive Media in a live brief in his 2nd year and excited by the possibilities, requested work experience which fitted with our aims to bring the perceptive radio to the smartphone. Over summer he spent time with the previous radios, worked in the MediaCity offices and visited some of the partners to soak up the ambitions of the project.

We have a exciting BBC programme (TBA) on board for our prototype. Not long after their standard podcasts, you will be able to download and listen via our prototype app. The app will contain features which we are experimenting with and we are actively seeking feedback to understand if our ideas are interesting, informative and entertaining. Another blog will follow once we have collected that feedback.

The prototype app will be launched on the Google Play store and will be clearly beta.

We look forward to your feedback and in the near future seeing what you could do with it.

This post is part of the Future Experience Technologies section