BBC Launches Research Collaboration in User Experience

The BBC announced on Thursday the BBC User Experience Research Partnership, a collaboration between BBC Research and Development and several universities, which involves research in User Experience and Human Computer Interaction. The initiative will develop pilot programs and prototypes, and will share its results. It also builds upon the BBC R&D’s strong record of collaboration, and focuses on strategies for the BBC and media industries.

The initiative includes: The University of Bath, The University of Dundee, UCL (University College London), Newcastle University, The University of Nottingham and Swansea University. All universities have committed to support the initiative for at least four years.

“The partnership will explore the potential of new forms of content and interaction in a multi-platform world,” reports the BBC. The resulting research will be shared with the industry to encourage innovation, help define standards, and support the future creation of new and engaging content.

The research will cover several areas. One is the development of cross-platform user-centric services to advance new digital broadcasting systems. Another is the creation of new ways to control and display content that is more natural and appealing than gestures and voice interaction.

Other research areas include how to meet the changing needs of older users, children, and people with disabilities in accessing new media. Also, the collaboration will look for new ways that production companies can effectively create new content.

“This is an exciting partnership that allows us to explore how audiences could engage with new types of content in the future, and how we can better make it available to them,” says Matthew Postgate, controller of BBC R&D. “By bringing together a world-class team of experts from academia and BBC R&D, we aim to stimulate innovation that not only benefits the BBC and our audiences, but also the wider industry.”

The partnering universities will bring expertise to their respective research and focus on specific areas. The University of Bath will study new content relating to children’s experiences, and researchers from The University of Dundee will focus on usability for older adults and disabled people.

The other universities plan to explore the crossing of new interfaces and social interactions, and look to transform the TV experience. Swansea University is looking “to help shape compelling, interactive content experiences that are driven by this human factor.”