Lecturer in Computer Science

BSc and MSc Course leader


My research work explores the application of emerging technolgy to traditional problems and I use my expertise in UX/UI paradigms to explore new was of interactiing with computers. Current projects include:

My Media Surface project started as an informal collaboration with BBC Manchester studio staff to develop and trial technology to allow TV presenters to interact with social media content in a broadcast scenario.

Traditional live broadcast studio configurations such as those used by the BBC are designed around programmes which adhere to rehearsed scripts with some scope for adjustment of the deliver as the programme is aired. In cases where media such as pictures and video are used to augment a live discussion it is prepared by a graphics team and played into the studio control gallery at specific times. Whilst this is acceptable from a viewer's perspective it does not allow the presenters very much scope for dynamic interaction with news media in real time.

Most TV companies now promote audience participation by using social media services such as Flickr, Twitter and facebook. These allow viewers to submit stories, comments and images relating to topical issues and are often sent in as a show is being aired. The traditional model for presenter interaction cannot fully take advantage of the real-time nature of social media as comments used need to be prepared before or during a programme airs. The authors set about developing a studio-friendly software application to run on a table top device which would give presenters the ability to directly manipulate this real-time information in a live broadcast studio setting whilst at the same time allow the producers ultimate editorial control of content off camera.

A dual screen software design was proposed which would drive a presenter interface and a producer control screen running off a single internet enabled computer. The control screen allows producers to configure various social media feeds and monitor and control incoming viewer content. This can be placed in the gallery where he rest of the transmission is being controlled from and also gives full access to the presenter's interface device if necessary. This allows full editorial control of incoming content, whilst giving the presenters the freedom to interact with the pre-moderated content as required. The presenter's interface uses a touch surface device to allow them to interact with media which has been filtered by the producers via the control screen.

Several "As Live" trials have been carried out in the BBC's North West Tonight studio in Manchester where presenter Gordon Burns ran through a mock-up of the end-of-programme discussion on viewer submitted content in broadcast conditions. The trials were filmed to assess the on-screen presence of the touch surface prototype and how it could work in a live show. Two hardware technologies were tested during trials: 1) a 32" dual-touch screen (using IR sensors) laid flat and 2) a Microsoft Surface device. Both configurations had a dual output component to drive the producer control screen and the presenter display was mirrored on the large back drop projector screen seen behind the presenter on camera.

Video edit from "As live" trial with presenter Gordon Burns.

All fields trials were successful in that the presenters were able to interact with a variety of social media using gesture based control and the control screen aspect of the system provided powerful off screen mediation of live content. The dual-touch screen technology was the most resilient under studio lighting conditions, but proved to be problematic with regards the smoothness of gesture control. The Microsoft Surface proved faultless in terms of presenter interaction with a very short learning curve and smooth interactions. This version of the trial was the most visually impacting and was covered in a recent BBC news report. Publications based on this work

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Copyright Lee Griffiths 2012