The BBC's Blue Room

I recently popped into the Mailbox and BBC Birmingham to take a look at their latest public facing display - The Blue Room.  This new interactive space allows visitors to experience and rate the latest ideas, familiarize themselves with existing products and try those that have been soft launched.  

The Blue Room is hence - unsurprisingly - split into three areas…

The first section is dedicated to the corporation’s latest ideas - this is done via BBC Taster, a section of the BBC’s website which allows you to trial some of the latest ideas from the BBC’s new digital innovation unit The Digital Guerillas based in Fazeley. 

Firstly I had a play with a 360 degree video of Strictly Come Dancing – this is the ideal programme to employ this technology – from a fixed camera you can pivot around the dance floor, orchestra, audience, even the rigging in the ceiling if you so wish – BBC Taster even shows you how to make a cardboard headset to use with you smartphone to give a fully immersive virtual reality experience; I also trialled the 360 degree technology in an underwater Big Blue Live Kelp Dive - A fish-eyed view if you will!

I also had a look at the BBC Asian Network’s social media broadcast - Ramadan in a Day – a sunrise to sunset project that collated all social media output during this time period from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Vine in one location - very handy for those who use multiple platforms - which I guess is the majority of us!

There are many things to try on BBC Taster each incorporating new visual and audio techniques.  Each bit of content can be shared and rated, it works in a way as a public test bed and each bit of content is available for a set time period after which it is replaced with a new idea.

Next up, a showcase of existing BBC products, some of which I must confess were new to me.  Every configuration of tech is on offer so you can see how the various services are displayed on computer, tablet, mobile and TV.  BBC Red Button + was a service that was new to me and is available on internet connected TV’s – it’s a great mash-up between TV content and interactive online content.   Radio iPlayer, BBC sport, news and Red Button are also showcased and a digital expert is also on hand to guide you around and answer any questions.

The last area in the Blue Room highlights experiments and products that have been soft launched – these include an object based weather forecast that splits all the graphics incorporated into a broadcast into separate elements and a new tool called Weather Watchers.  The latter allows users to submit accurate weather reports from anywhere in the UK – a great idea considering it is the nation's favourite topic of conversation. 

As new products become available or are ready to be trialled the content of the Blue Room will update accordingly –  it’s a great opportunity for you to get interactive, share your opinions and potentially determine what new initiatives are rolled out in the future by the corporation.   

The Blue Room was officially opened by Tony Hall the Director General of the BBC and cements Birmingham’s reputation as a new hub for digital skills and talent.

L to R: Barry Farrimond plays Ed Grundy in The Archers, Tony Hall Director General, BBC, Timothy Watson, plays Rob Titchener in The Archers, Joe Godwin Director of BBC Brimingham and BBC Academy



The Blue Room is open 10.00 to 17.00 Tuesday to Saturday and is situated in the foyer of BBC Birmingham in the Mailbox.


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