TV and the Social Web

This use case was led by the BBC’s Research and Development department, and was about technologies that can help people interact with each other while watching TV – whether that’s with people on the Web or in the same room.

You can try the demonstration here (you also need the player open in a separate page to see the effect).

Showcase goals: We aimed to demonstrate APIs for linking the Social Web with broadcast and on-demand television, using linked data from broadcasters, audiences and across the web, to help make social content navigation applications and active TV communities.

This formed part of the overall NoTube project goals.

Research areas covered in this showcase:

What we’ve done

During the first two years of the NoTube project we focused on laying the foundations for building useful and user-friendly social TV applications by creating an infrastructure based on

  • Re-usable APIs, and
  • The use of URLs to identify channels and programmes by disambiguating specific episodes.

We also developed several prototypes around the core scenarios of:

  • finding and sharing something interesting to watch
  • automatically finding out more about a programme
  • having smarter online conversations by making it easy to include links to the programmes you are talking about
  • coming together in an ad-hoc group to cast real-time votes on the popularity of participants in a TV programme

All these prototypes use second screens to allow the user to choose and control comfortably and then, when ready, play on a larger screen. And they all use XMPP over http to do the controlling. XMPP was chosen because of its built-in user-centric ‘friend-based’ security model.

During the final year of the project we have extended the use cases to consider scenarios involving small groups of people watching TV together, both in the same room and remotely, with each individual having their own second screen device.

This work has culminated in N-Screen, an html/javascript multi-screen demonstrator for real-time collaborative browsing and sharing of on-demand video content. In considering video on-demand archives, we’ve been investigating how recommendations can be used to surface ‘hidden gems’ from within this often hidden content.

N-Screen is designed to help answer the question “What shall we watch?” whether people are in the same room or remote. Participants can drag and drop interesting-looking programmes to other people in N-screen, or to the whole group, and likewise receive suggestions from others. Once the N-Screen group has found something interesting to watch together one of them can drag and drop it to the TV and it will play on the shared TV screen.

N-screen is a flexible framework that can be adapted for different data and content sets, and  it also allows us to integrate various different combinations of recommendation and browsing strategies developed in the NoTube project into one unified end-user interface. Read more about N-screen on our blog.

N-screen UI

N-screen user interface

Alongside N-screen we have also been investigating collaborative annotation of video for second screen experiences with our TV Extras Authoring (TEA) and TeaPlayer demos.

A summary of our work around the theme of ‘TV and the Social Web’ is summarised in a recent poster:

Our current interests are around two-way web-friendly APIs to TV that would allow applications like N-Screen to be built around the TV by the many talented web developers out there.

Related videos:

Watch these videos about the first prototypes we made for NoTube.

The first video describes our user scenarios:

The second video shows how we implemented the scenarios to create a working prototype:

The third video shows N-Screen in action:

Find out more

More detailed information about our prototypes, and our approach, can be found in the TV and the Social Web brochure.

Who was involved? 

The lead partner for this Use Case is BBC Research & Development, working in collaboration with other project partners in the consortium.

Related publications and presentations can be found in the Things to read section.