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BBC Taster: a glimpse at Aunty’s tech toys

BBC opens up website innovations for the public to test

The BBC is giving viewers a chance to play with some of the new interactive toys it has developed, with a new website called BBC Taster. The site houses a variety of projects that the Corproration is urging users to experiment with and rate, presumably so it can decide which of them to convert into full product launches. 

Amongst the projects on the site is an iPlayer experiment called BBC Shuffle, which plays random shows from the video-on-demand service and measures how long it is before you flick to the next programme in a bid to learn what you like watching. (We managed to watch Casualty for precisely six seconds before clicking the Next button, since you asked.)

The site also hosts a new television interview format, which is similar to the extras sections you find on DVDs, where instead of listening to the whole interview, you simply pick which topics/questions interest you most. The experiment is being run with a rather frank and NSFW interview between comedian Jennifer Saunders and American TV actor Lena Dunham.  

Other, more techy experiments include a Google Now-style experiment with voice commands, presumably being tested for future inclusion in BBC mobile apps. This allows you to issue commands such as “BBC news about London” or “BBC weather in Manchester on Friday” and have the relevant content automatically displayed on your screen. However, our brief tests with the Big Voice Hack ended badly, when the service read out the weather forecast, only to then mistake its own voice for another voice command. Only a two-star rating for that one. 

There are around a dozen projects to play with on the site, and each has a shelf life, warning how long they’re going to remain on the site. The BBC cautions that these are “experimental ideas in the testing phase, and they may not work on all platform or devices, may have some glitches, and may not meet the full BBC editorial, technical and accessibility standards”.


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