BBC R&D

Posted by Tristan Ferne on

Brief notes this sprint as I've been a bit busy wrapping up my project to write anything interesting about what I've been up to.

(Image: Music Tech Fest)

Machine learning on TV!

The Disco team finally finished their work on 'Made by Machine', the BBC Four programme that we've made using machine learning to construct sequences from archive clips - Caroline's written more about the project here, Tim and Jakub are going to publish another post soon and we got to see it broadcast.

Aside from that, Kristine's been doing further work on her BBC Introducing music recommender - porting the player app to React (with help from Alicia), and looking into using Long shot-term memory neural networks to learn playlist sequencing. Tim's been doing further work for our collaboration with the University of Manchester - continuing to arrange recruitment and develop a web-based survey interface so that we can begin fieldwork.

Voice interfaces

Nicky and Henry have been working on getting The Unfortunates production ready for Radio 3, doing conversation tests, reordering and editing the script. Nicky has started to get the promotions and marketing teams ready and the messaging agreed. Some early promotion around the release which has been picked up here.

Ant helped build an Alexa skill shown at the BBC's AI Conference. It made use of the gadget controller directives and game engine inputs.

Mathieu finished his voice-driven music sequencer prototype.

Web standards

Chris has been preparing the agenda for the W3C Media & Entertainment Interest Group meeting TPAC in October. He also joined a discussion with the W3C Technical Architecture Group to discuss packaging of web content for synchronised media experiences. Related to this, Chris has also made some additions to a use case and requirements document for a media-timed events API.

Alicia and Chris built a prototype using the Presentation API to play content using the Standard Media Player. For some reason, video wouldn’t play on the Chromecast device we tested with, so we have some more investigation work to do.

Elsewhere in the team

Alicia has been finalizing 5-2-1 Redux integration and pushing it live, and made some changes to navigation for use with the Xbox remote. Libby has been figuring out how we can get this work on Taster.

Jakub's been experimenting with setting up an internal BBC Mastodon instance, as a platform for prototyping how we could use distributed / federated social media networks in interesting ways.

Mathieu and Thomas have been working on turning two of our news prototypes into pilots for the news website using appropriate frameworks and GEL. Next up is working with editorial on which story they’re going to use.

Barbara has been arranging an MSc research project and user evaluation for in-car experiences. She also learned how to set up Raspberry Pi with a camera - part of her B-bot side project - telepresence using a 80s robot rescued years ago from a flea market, based on libbybot.

Chris Needham had a look into an issue a user reported Peaks.js, which led to an interesting investigation into how media seeking works in Chrome.

Out and about

We've also been talking about our work in a couple of very different places. Chris Newell presented our paper on quote extraction and analysis for news at the KDD workshop on Data Science, Journalism and Digital Media, as well as speaking on a panel about the future of data science in journalism.

Tim and Jakub took a few days leave to go to Eufonic festival in Catalonia, where they presented a personal project they've been working on for the last few months: 'Alluvial Sharawadji', a participatory web-based artwork which allowed festival-goers to contribute to an interactive sound map of the event. They also trialled this with our team, producing a sound map of the neighbourhood of our office in White City.

A screenshot from Sharawadji, a sound art project.

Libby and Henry attended EMFCamp (also in their spare time) and both did talks, which were filmed - "Things that go bump on the net" (Henry) and "Libbybot: A cheap posable presence robot using a Raspberry PI, WebRTC and a few servos" (Libby).

Kristine and Henry attended Music Tech Fest in Stockholm. Kristine was there for a whole week, taking part a music hackathon building to performances all weekend in an decommissioned underground nuclear experiment chamber. Henry arrived at the end of the week to talk about Singing with Machines and attend the weekend part of the festival (see picture).

This post is part of the Internet Research and Future Services section