Broadcasting experience in a digital economy

Professor Brendan Walker: Director of Aerial; Principal Research Fellow, Horizon Digital Economy Research institute, University of Nottingham; and broadcaster.

I run Aerial, a design practice specialising in the creation of tailored emotional experience, working across the entertainment sector, particularly theme parks, advertising, and live performance. In support of one of my roles as the world's only Thrill Engineer I've been working closely with the UK Research and Innovation Digital Economy Theme funded Horizon Digital Economy Research institute at the University of Nottingham to explore how biosensing technologies can enhance thrilling experiences across the entertainment sector. Together, we continue to investigate the use of emerging wearable, networked neuro and biosensors - alongside other environmental data - to reveal and amplify the emotional response of the protagonist, and to enable new forms of entertainment.

This research is beginning to have real impact on the entertainment sector, particularly in television. Together we have excited TV production companies and commissioning channels to experiment with incorporating biodata into existing TV shows - some of which I've appeared as an expert contributor to perform the monitoring process.

The motivation for these production companies is to enhance their ability to tell a story and engage their audience. Using our biodata services they are able to provide close-up and unusual views of intense experiences such as riding rollercoasters, but also to help support a common narrative of the 'scientific' investigation of such experiences. For example, the lead article on the BBC's Blue Peter in May 2013 shows two presenters comparing their reactions to Alton Towers' new ride, Smiler. Similar features were also aired on The One Show, Bang Goes The Theory, and Discovery's Engineering Thrill.

But we want our own show! Pilot episodes for a reality horror series Fright Club, and a makeover show Honey I'm Hot Again were both developed in partnership with RDF Television for E4. Peter Usher, Head of Entertainment at RDF Television says The University's unique contribution in helping to produce these tasters has impacted on the television industry at an international level, and both ideas are still very much alive and seeking commission... And as the likely presenter of these shows, I very much hope they hit the mark.