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Zooming in on Public Users

Understanding audiovisual archive search and browsing behavior.

Unlike users that work with audiovisual media as part of their work, little is known about what public users want from large video archives or how they want to use it.

At the end of April 2013, the AXES project carried out an extensive user trial at the BBC with the aim to have a better understanding of archival search and browsing behavior of these types of users. A group of 30 users in the age range of 18-30 were recruited by a specialized agency to participate in a 2h session in which they where presented with AXES audiovisual search technology. The goal of the trials was to receive feedback on the AXES search technology, gather requirements on linking within audiovisual content, and create evaluation sets for benchmarking search and linking technology.

Robin Aly of University of Twente explains visual search in the introduction session of the user trials

The users were presented with a simplified version of the AXES Professional system that allowed them to search a collection of some 300 hours of BBC video material. The system provided search options based on metadata, spoken words, visual categories, general similarity, and facial similarity. As the participants were unfamiliar with most of these technologies, these were explained in a 30 minutes introduction to the system in advance of the trials. In the introduction, we especially focused on the visual search options that we expected
users would be least familiar with.

After the introduction, the participants were instructed to explore the available content and to formulate searches for finding interesting material using the provided search options. When they found an interesting clip, we asked them to describe the clip as one would to a friend in social media (e.g., on Facebook). AXES will use these descriptions to have a better understanding of what type of archival content is of interest to public users. Also, we asked them to label the clip in a way that would allow them to find again exactly this clip in the future (also referred to as an known-item search). These descriptions will be used at a later stage in AXES to do search evaluations.

Roeland Ordelman of Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision explains the video hyperlinking concept

Finally, the users helped AXES to discover public users’ requirements on audiovisual hyperlinking, a novel technology that recently attracted research attention. To this end, in the video clips they selected earlier, users had to define parts for which they wanted the system to display links. For example, when a ‘red telephone box’ appears in the video a user could decide to select this object as a video segment that should be hyperlinked (the link anchor) to other video material (the link targets).

Users were asked to give a description of this segment and also to provide a description of possible link targets they would be interested in. In the ‘red telephone box’ example, they might for instance state that they would be interested in a documentary on the history of the telephone box or a news item on the current state of telephone boxes in London. Each session ended with a short survey and a group interview to elicit feedback on the search technology and get information on how users perceived the difficulty of the task.

Andy O'Dwyer from the BBC hosted the user trials at BBC R&D's headquarters

The trials provided AXES with a lot of interesting data that we are currently analyzing. From the interview sessions we can already say that the home users liked searching the archive, especially the ability to jump right into the content without having to watch whole videos. As we expected based on earlier user studies, they were not fond of all the different search options in the PRO interface and stated their preference for a single ‘google-type’ search box.

The users were enthusiastic about future possibilities of being able to follow links between videos. In September 2013 AXES will conduct a follow-up study where we will present the same users that participated in the present study with automatically generated link targets on the basis of the anchor segments they provided earlier. These link targets will be generated by participants of the MediaEval workshop Search and Hyperlinking task.

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