BBC launches User Experience Research Partnership

22 Jul 2013 14:27:56.447
PA 242/13 A BBC led initiative brings together world-leading research teams for a four year collaboration.

The BBC User Experience Research Partnership is a long-term collaboration project between BBC Research and Development (BBC R&D) and leading universities, including The University of Nottingham, in the fields of User Experience and Human Computer Interaction research.

The other academic partners will be The University of Bath, The University of Dundee, UCL (University College London), Newcastle University and Swansea University.
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Through large scale pilots and prototypes, the partnership will explore the potential of new forms of content and interaction in a multi-platform world, alongside new ways of producing media that will help make content more accessible to all audiences. The research outcomes will be shared with the industry to encourage wider audience-focused innovation, help define open standards and support the creative industries in producing engaging content in the future.

The technical scope of the partnership covers:

•    The User Experience of an IP Broadcasting System: Developing user-centred services across multiple platforms to help advance public service broadcasting in the digital age.
•    Designing for New Interaction: Moving beyond gesture and voice to develop new ways of controlling and displaying digital content for more natural and engaging interfaces.
•    Sustainable Approaches to User Capability: Allowing the industry to meet the changing needs of older users, young children and people with disabilities in accessing digital media.
•    New Production Interface Technologies: Using novel interface and interaction technologies in new ways to give production teams the most creative and effective ways to craft new forms of content.

Steve Benford, Professor of Collaborative Computing at The University of Nottingham, said: “This centre provides a unique opportunity to transform how we experience television in the new world of tablets, phones and online”

The focus at The University of Nottingham will be on User Experience - Human Computer Interaction – based around the work on interactive technologies in the Horizon Digital Research Hub. However, it also has the potential to reach out more widely across the University, including Humanities where there are already growing links with the BBC.

Professor Chris Rudd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement, said: "The University of Nottingham's Horizon Digital Economy Hub is a £45m initiative focusing on digital economy research. It was set up to address cross-cutting challenges underlying the digital economy leading to the development of real world applications.  This is a further superb opportunity to extend the reach of Horizon by linking with BBC's innovative teams to deliver ground-breaking content to new audiences."

The initiative builds on BBC R&D’s strong history of industry and academic collaboration, which includes the Audio Research Partnership and a strategic partnership with UCL, by establishing another centre of excellence for research into areas of strategic importance to the BBC and the wider industry.

Matthew Postgate, Controller, BBC R&D, said: “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. 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.”

Professor Stanton Fraser, The University of Bath, said: “The University of Bath brings a strong base of interdisciplinary Human Computer Interaction research to this partnership. We are excited about sharing expertise and university researchers will be based both at Bath and at MediaCityUK from next month studying new content around children's experience”.   

Professor Hanson, The University of Dundee, said: "At the University of Dundee we are thrilled to be involved in this unique new venture.   We see this as a fantastic opportunity to provide innovative digital technologies that not only excite people, but which also are usable by a diverse population.   With much of our work focussed on enhancing usability for older adults and people who are disabled, we see this new collaboration as an important and powerful means to provide digital technologies that can meet the diverse needs of the population."

Professor Rogers, UCL, said: “We are very excited to be part of the BBC UX network and believe our research agenda at the UCL Interaction Centre will enable new synergistic opportunities, especially exploring the intersection between novel interfaces and social interactions”.

Professor Olivier, Newcastle University, said: “This partnership is a genuinely unique opportunity for the UK, in that it allows us to bring together internationally recognised user experience researchers and the world's leading public broadcasting organisation. This high level of concentration of expertise is exactly what we need in order to both understand and have a real impact on the future of broadcast media production and consumption.”

Professor Jones, Swansea University, said: “Designing for person scale is essential in a world of Big Data. We’re excited and delighted by the prospects of working with BBC R&D and the excellent universities in this partnership to help shape compelling, interactive content experiences that are driven by this human factor”.



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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from David Turnbull, Publicist, BBC R&D, or Professor Steve Benford, at The University of Nottingham on +44 (0) 115 951 4203,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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