The BBC’s Connected Studio programme has invested in a series of prototypes including a “smart search” Weather service and a Cbeebies travel app.

The £2m initiative, kicked off in November by director of Future Media Ralph Rivera to encourage innovation, has invested up to £50,000 in around 10 pilot projects from BBC staff and a range of suppliers.

A series of events held throughout the year have seen investments in projects including a service which makes the BBC’s homepage more relevant through ongoing personalisation and the addition of a live timeline that aggregates information from sites such as Facebook and Tumblr.

BBC homepage

A third prototype is being developed to investigate ways in which a customised version of the BBC homepage can be embedded in popular third party sites.

A user experience product is taking inspiration from the growth of swipe-based navigation on touchscreen devices to suggest ways in which diagonal movements could be used to browse the website, beyond the traditional up/down/left/right mechanic.

Weather service

A semantic search product aimed at Weather will enable users to type basic sentences into the site to return relevant results.

In addition, a “now casting” idea will integrate information from users such as the depth of snowfall into the site.

CBBC travel app

An “Are we there yet?” travel app for Cbeebies looks to aggregate video, audio and locally relevant information from across the BBC into a customisable single, mobile experience.   

BBC Connected Studio, which is being overseen by Adrian Woolard, project lead of R&D North Lab, hopes to get five of the prototypes live on the site next year. To be successful each will have to be greenlit by the relevant division.  

“It’s a great initiative which allows companies which may not previously have felt as if they had a way of working with the BBC to get involved,” Woolard said.    

A specific brief is distributed for each Connected Studio event, which take place in MediaCityUK and London, with sessions on Sport, News, TV iPlayer, Knowledge & Learning and Radio & Music planned for the next six months.