Mike Armstrong

Senior R&D Engineer
BBC Research & Development
Mike Armstrong has a broad experience of broadcasting research and operations spanning over 30 years. His research work spans a wide range of topics from access services, speech audibility, video quality to human perception and is a long-time advocate for object-based media. His work has contributed to significant advances in subtitle quality in the UK and has been influential beyond the UK in forming a better understanding of the issues of subtitle quality and the needs of the audience. His work on video quality contributed significantly to the technical knowledge that lead to the formation of Freeview and his work on speech audibility has become the foundation for a new approach to the problems. In his previous role in BBC Local Radio he installed and ran the BBC’s first ever computer-based playout system at Radio Bristol, integrating it with the newsroom computer systems, touch-screen router control and music logging systems.

His current research is examining the ways in which media experiences can be created so that they respond to the user in a natural manner with the aim of avoiding all the problems of branching narrative. This has involved looking back at pre-literate and improvised forms of narrative and investigating the narrative structures and formulas used by experienced storytellers with the aim of creating forms of AI that can respond to the user’s actions. This work combines the issues of storytelling and narrative structures, natural forms of agency for the user, the problems of personalisation and the roles that the user can play in an experience.