CTO Matthew Postgate outlines his vision of mobile and virtual reality future for the BBC
BBC Chief Technology Officer Matthew Postgate has detailed his vision for the corporation’s broadcasting future which will see a focus on delivering more content to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Postgate, who heads up BBC Engineering (formerly known as BBC Technology),said in a blog post that it was up to the Beeb to keep pace with an ever changing digital world, specifically the trend towards mobility.
“Today we can already film broadcast quality content just by using a smartphone app,” he said. “The digital world is changing broadcasting fast and the technology making it all possible is, essentially, the internet.
“We will increasingly use the internet to deliver programmes and services to you in the future – whether that’s to the big screen in the living room or the smartphones and tablets scattered over the house.”
The BBC has been streaming its programming for nearly seven years now. BBC iPlayer went live on Christmas Day 2007 following a period of testing, but Postgate has hinted at a new direction for the digital age of broadcasting.
“This opens the door to entirely new forms of content that are much more data-intensive than audio or video – things like Ultra-HD or virtual reality for example,” he said.
But Postgate also alluded to the job disruption that the digital age of broadcasting heralds. He gave the example of Glastonbury festival, which would once require “multiple production vehicles, each with their own support and camera crews, on the ground and in the mud” but in the near future will only need a small team in one production vehicle.
“Imagine a world where we don’t need to do that, where we use those resources to do more creatively. Well, that may not be too far away, as ground-breaking technology being developed by world-class engineers in our Research and Development labs could reduce the entire operation for big events like these to potentially just one production vehicle,” he said.
The chief technology officer, who was previously in charge of the BBC’s research and development department, also touched on the way the BBC is changing the way it procures and manages its technology contracts.
Postgate effectively replaced John Linwood in 2014, following his dismissal for alleged failings in the BBC’s catastrophic digital transformation scheme the previous year.
The BBC is moving away from “monolithic” long-term technology contracts, he said, and changing to multiple shorter-term contracts. This shift is reportedly saving the BBC up to £90 million over the next two years.
“Now we need to be more flexible, get quicker access to new technology as it emerges, and ensure we get the best possible value for licence fee payers,” said Postgate.