The group of Masters students at the VU University Amsterdam has now completed their project on usability heuristics for TV second screens.
As described previously, the students initially developed various ideas for future second screen scenarios based on brainstorming sessions, literature reviews and an online questionnaire.
They then went on to develop some of these ideas into paper-based mock-ups which they used to explore potential second screen functionalities during face-to-face interviews with thirteen potential end-users (mostly aged between 18 and 32, although a couple of participants were older).
Finally, the students drew up a set of usability guidelines for using second screens to enhance the TV viewing experience, whilst avoiding potential pitfalls such as information overload and risks to people’s privacy in group settings.
Of the variety of second screen functionalities that the students discussed with the interviewees, the ones that received the most positive feedback were:
- ‘Screen grab and send’: annotating and sharing customised (or curated) clips with friends. Interviewees also wanted to be able to mark interesting scenes during a programme, so that they can grab the relevant clips after the programme has finished.
- Choosing to see different camera angles/views for watching sport, talent shows or detective stories on the main TV screen, using the second screen to control the selection.
- Data mining for related information such as team/player statistics or historical facts, either automatically pushed to the user or initiated by them – depending on the situation. An example of such “do you want to know more?” functionality is shown in an early NoTube demo where the Wikipedia page about a costume drama, The Forsyte Saga, is automatically sent to the user’s smartphone whilst they were watching the programme on TV. The Wikipedia page provides detailed information about The Forsyte Saga books, the author, TV and film adaptations, main characters, plot, and so on.
The students propose that these three functionalities could be usefully combined to enhance the viewing of the following programme genres:
- Sports events such as the Olympics or the World Cup
- Talent or reality shows
- TV news
This was a four-month assignment, and therefore the students were working within certain constraints; for example, they did not have time to conduct field studies of physical prototypes in real home environments. However, we hope that these guidelines can provide a useful starting point for creators of second screen experiences, and that others will be able to build on this work in the future. Further areas of research include how to best support the synchronisation between the TV and the second screen device.
With thanks and acknowledgements to the Masters students at the VU University Amsterdam: Andreas Manios, Andys Sundaypink, Dmitry Litosh, Francesco Castri, Iwan Cheng, and Nam Nguyen.
Download the full report.