Adaptive Podcasts

Podcasts are important audio initiatives with over 48 million episodes being published worldwide.  Podcast audiences in the UK alone have increased year-on-year, reaching an estimated 15.6 million listeners.  Over 1.3 billion podcasts were played alone by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) listeners in 2021 – up 25% from 2020 – making them a major area of media consumption and development. 

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) along with partners including the BBC R&D are currently developing an open-source platform, due to be released in 2023, which will enable the production of adaptive podcasts. The platform will allow broadcasters to personalise podcasts based on data provided by listener devices, for example, location.  Challenges to widespread adoption include making data use explicit – to give listeners greater control over trust in personalisation and responding to the sociality of the listening experience – to enable group engagement. 

Our earlier research with the BBC R&D to design Databox combined ‘perceptive media’ (using sensor-based technologies to allow for the subtle adaption of narrative without direct interaction from the audience), along with core HDI Framework principles relating to local data processing. This led to the development of the Living Room of the Future  – an installation designed to capture real Internet of Things (IoT) data and feedback to support a greater understanding about personal data ethics and privacy.   

In response to feedback regarding privacy concerns, this project will explore the processing of user’s personal data locally – on listener devices- rather than transferring it to centralised servers for processing by service providers ‘in the cloud’.   Our project partners are the BBC R&D and Imagination Lancaster and we will be working with stakeholders including podcast users and developers to co-create a Technology Probe, which will be tested in the real world. 

This project will engage with HoRRIzon 2.0 to enable reflection and recalibration measures throughout. 

Project team: Tom Lodge, Alan Chamberlain, Andy Crabtree, Neelima Sailaja, Kevin Glover.

Introduction blog, mid blog, final blog

Start date 1 May 2022 – 30 April 2023 


Paper: Making of an Adaptive Podcast that Engenders Trust through Data Negotiability, ACM International Conference on Interactive Media Experiences (IMX ’24), June 12–14, 2024, Stockholm, Sweden. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 8 pages

This project sits with Horizon’s Agile programme (Round 2)