BBC Connected Studio

THE SWARM has been working with the BBC Connected Studio to develop new ideas for digital services.

The studio connects BBC developers with commercial counterparts in a 2-day creative environment to develop new ideas for digital services with BBC content.  We have recently worked on the Research and Education Space, BBC IX4, News Archive and Weather & Traffic labs.

The SWARM was invited along with 6 other companies, to a Connected Studio prototyping lab to devise and pitch innovate ways of making the educational media database ‘RES’ quick and easy to use in a classroom setting. Res is a partnership between the BBC, Jisc, and the BUFVC.

Over the two days we explored the central concept of an embeddable button or browser widget that allowed Teachers to pre-populate a platform with media content surfaced automatically from any web-page using term analysis, integrating planning lessons with every day web use.

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Teachers could then create a collection of content, and tag with with certain attributes such as key-stage/curriculum relevance, teacher assured moderation and subject area, and then share them with other users.

The user would be able to scrape data from any a webpage, run key terms through an academic term database and return the results to a page in our system now pre-populated with corresponding appropriate content. Teachers could reshuffle a pintrest-inspired flow of content by tweaking the priority of the terms in a list, removing certain redundant terms or adding in their own.

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We also explored the future potential development of the platform becoming a lesson-planning tool allowing teachers to arrange content on a timeline, add prompts and quizzes and perhaps collate student responses through the system.

BBC IX4 is BBC Online’s commitment to connecting the public to ten core services across 4 screens (TV, Desktop, Tablet and Mobile).  The SWARM provided a day of design and prototyping services, collaborating with in-house BBC teams.

We worked with the ‘Active & Fulfilling Lives’ team, trying to understand how BBC Online might inspire people to improve their wellbeing to live more active, fulfilling and rewarding lives. We looked at audience insights, brainstormed and worked to generate new ideas around the subject matter to identify new propositions that would be compelling for audiences.

The day culminated in a series of paper prototypes – outlines of what functionality the services would potentially offer that the BBC could take forward for internal consideration.

BBC Weather and Traffic

The studio at Mozilla was the second ‘Build’ stage of an earlier open call at Techhub, where we submitted an idea based on how the BBC Weather service could combine weather data with peoples’ own experiences to create a weather story archive. Working with the BBC producers & other participants helped evolve the ideas. We decided to focus on how to integrate different types of real-time data into existing parts of the weather site, with a focus on user-generated information and experiences at a local level. We expanded the BBC Weather site functionality, creating separate strands of more specialised observations from varied sources, that allowed users to peel back the different levels of weather forecasting authority.


These included user-generated observations, regional weather station reports, photos and news stories, focused on locations near to the user. This alternative stream of information and forecasting ran parallel to the BBC’s reporting and gave users the opportunity to discern their own conclusions from different data sources. One widget we created was a map layer that plotted popular weather-related Twitter themes in realtime onto the BBC forecast map. The program would scrape trending weather terms and create a ‘nowcast’ to allow viewers to understand what people were experiencing across the region in real time.

To find out more about how you can work with us on developing great transmedia concepts and data visualisation, contact us.