Dream role at BBC

What do you get if you mix a University computer scientist with the creative and technical power of the most famous broadcaster in the world, the BBC?

The answer is a unique collaboration that gives academic research a direct line into real-world creative industries.

Steve Benford, Professor of Computer Science at the University’s Horizon Digital Economy Research Hub, is the first academic to take part in Dream Fellowship, a venture sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Steve’s Dream Fellowship at the BBC’s MediaCityUK campus in Salford is the first in a three-year programme of secondments he’s undertaking which aims to close the gap between research and industry.

Steve focused on the design of multiscreen experiences that connect televisions, personal computers, phones and tablets. “This has emerged as one of the most exciting and deeply provoking ideas to confront the television industry in recent years,” he said, “combining the need to understand and accommodate the complex ways in which viewers appropriate multiple screens for themselves, with the possibility of creating new forms of pervasive television experience.”

Prototypes Steve worked on at the BBC include Jigsaw, a tablet app that allows a child to capture a screen image and turn it into a jigsaw puzzle, and an Antiques Roadshow app for viewers to guess the values of antiques.

Steve’s next secondment is with Microsoft Research in Cambridge, where he will explore digital platforms to help amateur musicians, bands and film-makers enhance their public profile.

Read Steve’s blog about his experiences at http://tiny.cc/Benford

Pro-Vice Chancellor for External Engagement, Professor Chris Rudd, said: “Steve Benford’s Dream Fellowship at the BBC is an excellent example of how the University’s cutting edge research can have an impact on the real world. His EPSRC Visiting Professorship is a significant accolade for his outstanding research in the field of the digital creative economy. This scheme will go a long way towards closing the gap between original academic research and commercial/public sector research and development.”

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