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Multimedia and Augmented Radio Creation: Online, iNteractive, Individual

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MARCONI (Multimedia and Augmented Radio Creation: Online, iNteractive, Individual)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2020-03-31

Nowadays, radio shows surpass linear broadcast feeds by increasingly revolving around user engagement, which encompasses audience interaction and experience personalisation. Unfortunately, the tools to enable radio-makers to capitalize on these new kinds of media and interaction opportunities are premature at best, and are in addition ill aligned with contemporary radio production workflows.

MARCONI enables fully interactive and personalised radio formats, integrating broadcast radio with digital and social media, resulting in converged radio experiences. To realize this goal, MARCONI pursues two concrete objectives. First, consumers are enabled to interact with “live” radio through their preferred communication channel in ways that are richer than is feasible today. As such, consumers feel more connected to the radio brand - even when not listening linearly - and are better served in an individual way. Second, radio-makers are given an integrated view on audience interactions and are supported by interaction automation services. The net outcome is enhanced audience engagement.
From concept to open piloting

The project vision, created at the beginning of the project, has been revised considering the experiences from piloting and re-issued as D1.4. The technical work from the early prototypes and a minimum viable product (MVP) towards the MARCONI platform was coordinated by the sprint planning done in WP3, and WP2 and WP3 tasks added new functionality and performed integration. The piloting activities performed did not only validate the technical components, but also the privacy-aware data management, and the procedures for user consent. The open pilotinginvolved workshops with radio stations, and integration of technologies with both radio stations and technology providers outside the consortium.

Realising the MARCONI platform

For the MARCONI project, we chose to work with an agile development method. To adapt to the needs of MARCONI, we used several tools and techniques from known methods such as XP, SCRUM and Kanban, but applied them in a different way. The systems are built as platform services separated into microservices. Different systems are controlled or implemented by different MARCONI members. With the separation of services we can create different solutions adapted to the situation in every broadcaster. The sprints integrated the intelligent services developed in WP2 and the infrastructure components developed in WP3, which include chatbot services, search in social media content and image analysis services (object detection, face recognition). Furthermore, the services connect to existing applications or websites at the different broadcasters as well as RadioManager as the core platform. As part of the open piloting activities, integration with third party services has been performed.

Privacy aspects

An in-depth analysis of the architecture, data types and proposed services of MARCONI from a legal point of view has been performed. Each dataset is classified, if it contains personal data according to the GDPR and under which conditions such data can be processed lawfully. In MARCONI, this shall either be consent, a necessity for the performance of a contract (smartphone app) or the purpose of legitimate interests pursued by the controller. As part of the MARCONI platform development, a privacy platform called PriVaults has been developed. It serves as the central hub for accessing data, and allows formalising data processing purposes and permissions, so that they can be checked against registered consent from users before components of the system are granted access. PriVaults has been the result of comprehensive discussion and analysis between the involved technical and legal experts.

Piloting activities

Piloting activities included pilots with the stations of the project partners as well as open piloting activities with parties outside the project. VRT engaged in piloting activities with their radio stations, including MNM, Studio Brussel and Radio 1 to study the use of the Search tool and the integration of this tool in “Radio Manager” of PLUX with their radio production team.Radiomanager was used to be the unified, connected interface for this Search tool (and the conversation and automation tool, as already included in Switchboard) for two reasons: it already bundles a lot of features designed for radiomakers, including the core functionality of creating the rundown of a radio show. Secondly, it supports adding custom features as plugins, which makes it easy to try new functionality. It enabled VRT to connect additional services. The most obvious is the phone service, provided by Phonebox, which VRT plans to connect to the visual radio environment.
NPO has together with Faktion invested in chatbot development, the development of the messenger 2.0 and executed a pilot with the ‘Audio-to-go’ app. NPO also executed a large scale pilot for ‘Audio-to-go’. This service centres around commuters (car and public transport) as they don’t have much time in their busy morning schedule to read the latest news, and spend time in the car where the environment is better suited for listening. For “app de studio” a new stand-alone messenger studio dashboard has been developed in cooperation with Pluxbox for NPO Radio 2 and NPO Radio 5. This became Messenger 2.0.

Dissemination and exploitation activities

The project has updated the communication materials, and the online communication channels were updated regularly. Several editions of the newsletter was sent out to the stakeholders. MARCONI attended a number of industry events, including IBC, NAB, RadioDays Europe to name just a few. Results of the project have been presented at scientific conferences. Whenever possible we will make available the camera ready scientific publications at our Zenodo page: https://zenodo.org/communities/marconi_eu/
The exploitation activities have been intensified, resulting in the development of a business plan.
A key innovation of MARCONI is the PriVaults platform, which provides a state of the art solution for controlling user data across the entire ecosystem, including services and apps from third party developers that are integrated with the system.
Further technical innovations have been made in the development of intelligent services. Conversation services such as chatbots, which currently rely on static knowledge bases have been connected with dynamic information sources, such as programme and music information from RadioManager. The face recognition approach has been modified to enable fast online training starting with only few samples, and also results for object detection with few samples have been achieved.
The main result of the project is the MARCONI platform for radiomakers, which is connected with a broad range of intelligent analysis, as well as data and communication services. The services are provided as microservices, which enables their integration with existing infrastructure at broadcasters. The development of the platform and services strictly followed a privacy by design approach, and thus gives consumers full control of their data while maximising the benefits of data analysis for customisation and personalisation of content. These services enable better interaction and personalisation for media consumers, and increase the use of state-of-the-art IT services in media production.
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