University of Salford develops touchscreen technology for BBC presenters

June 22
07:03 2011

University of Salford researchers have been working with the BBC North West Tonight (NWT) team to develop an interactive social media touch surface to enhance their TV programming.

Lecturer and researcher in Computer Science, Lee Griffiths, and undergraduate BSc Software Engineering student, Adil Zaheer, have designed and built a bespoke touch surface application, nicknamed MediaSurface, which allows TV presenters on the show to interact with social media sent in by viewers from Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

“Interactive touch screens and surfaces are becoming commonplace since being popularised with products like the iPhone, and our touch surface application allows TV presenters to display and manipulate pictures and comments sent in by viewers,” said Griffiths.

“We have been experimenting with various touch screen technologies including the Microsoft Surface interactive table loaned for the trial by the University’s ThinkLab and we’ve come up we’ve something we think will be really useful for Gordon Burns and his team.”

The team carried out trials in the BBC’s Oxford Road studios in Manchester where NWT presenter Gordon Burns and technical assistant editor Phil Smith were keen to test the new concept to see how they could work with it in a live show for their new studios at MediaCityUK.

It is hoped that the BBC will use the touch surface in a live news show over the summer.

As far as we know this kind of media interaction using audience comments on live TV has not been attempted before,” said Lee. “We really believe that it can bring the presenters much closer to their viewers’ opinions as news breaks.”

The University of Salford will be opening its own teaching and research facility at MediaCityUK later on this year. Alongside the BBC and ITV, 1,500 students and staff will be joining professional broadcasters to develop career opportunities and create new applications – like these touchscreens.

You can watch a video of the screen being used by Gordon Burns here:

School of Computing, Science & Engineering:

University of Salford at MediaCityUK


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Paul Milligan

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