The BBC has announced a long-term partnership to run pilots and prototypes to explore new forms of content and interaction in multi-platform broadcasting.

It hopes that the results, which will be shared with the industry, will help define open standards and help creative industries produce engaging content in the future.

Set up by BBC Research and Development, which is based at MediaCityUK and London, the partnership has been developed alongside 6 university partners, including Newcastle University. They have all committed to support the project for at least 4 years.

“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,” said Professor Olivier of Newcastle University.

“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.”

The partnership covers:

The User Experience of an IP Broadcasting System. This will mean developing “user-centred services” across multiple platforms to help advance public service broadcasting in the digital age

Designing for New Interaction, which explores interaction beyond gesture and voice to control and display digital content.

Sustainable Approaches to User Capability, here they will investigate the changing needs of older and younger users as well as people with disabilities.

New Production Interface Technologies. Using “novel interface and interaction technologies” in new ways to help production teams use the most creative and effective ways to make content.

“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,” added Matthew Postgate, controller of BBC R&D.

As part of the programme, the University of Bath will be basing researchers at MediaCityUK from August to study new content around children’s programmes.