Work Package 2 – “Professor S.” Platform Phase 2

Industrial Research – Staff capacity: 18,18 PM, external labour: 34.086,25 EUR

Aim of the Work Package Within the Overall Project Context

The aim of this work package is to expand the “Professor S.” platform with HTML5 video and audio processing functions and integrate the existing and user-generated audio and video content in a content delivery network (CDN). Also, there will be a feature that allows film producers and distributors to upload content intended for online sales onto the platform. This content will later be made accessible to users through a recommendation system. In collaboration with the University of Bamberg, a geolocation game is to be integrated into the “Professor S.” platform. Based on the real-time messaging system (WP1.3), a chatbot will be programmed to send automated replies and messages to the users. Furthermore, an API is to be programmed for mini games, designed to facilitate the integration of third-party applications into the “Professor S.” platform.

Results as Conclusion of the Work Package

  1. a functional media server integration
  2. an in-browser recording function for audio and video content
  3. a functional API for the geolocation game
  4. a graphical user interface for a place-bound game
  5. a functional mini-game API
  6. a functioning referral system for media content
  7. a working uploader and transcoder for video content

Technological Risk of the Work Package

Although the W3C “Media Source Extension” means the use of HTML, MediaSource provides elements supporting Java Script-generated media streams to functions such as client-side audio and video processing, which are still in the experimental phase and are so far supported by only a few browsers. It is currently unclear, whether the corresponding standards will be widespread enough with the release of the platform. To mitigate this risk, the implementation of a Flash-based fallback is planned.

The technological risk in the development of game mechanics is due in large part to the impact that small changes in the game design can have on technological elements. Since game design is about human behavior and the way in which people deal with the developed rules, small changes can have surprising effects on the entire game system. Technology is particularly prone to error in this regard. This risk will be countered by developing the game rules based on the experience gained over the last four years and also by defining the game mechanics at the beginning of the project, and testing them under real conditions as much as possible. Major changes towards the project end shall be avoided.

Client integration in the hypermedia APIs will be facilitated through the use of a semantic structure. The assessment is the successful application of automatic recognition of URI endpoints and data structures by the client system. The semantic of the communication range of characters from URI endpoints and data structures is still at an early stage of development. The risk that arises due to the time of development of this structure is to be mitigated by the parallel creation of a traditional API documentation.

The research on server-client applications for real-time data exchange with event-driven, non-blocking I/O model currently is still in its infancy. Therefore, the development of such a system involves the risk of missing features at the end of the development phase. This risk will be mitigated by the parallel implementation of a Flash-based messaging system.

Description of the Work Package

The main functions of the existing prototypes of the “Professor S.” platform will be ported to an HTML5 frontend. There is an in-browser video/audio recording feature to be created, which allows users to record video and audio directly in the browser. The backend of the platform is intended to be ported from the existing SilverStripe Framework (PHP) onto the Ruby on Rails framework. This will be done using the principles of Test Driven and Behavior Driven Development (TDD/BDD). Furthermore, an HTML5 uploader and transcoders for film content are to be developed.

Work Package 2.1 – Integration of a Media Server to Support In-Browser Recording Function for Audio and Video Content (Milestone)

The browser will be able to access audio and video devices directly without having to go through the detour of other applications. The students should be presented with a button inside the message form that will allow them to record audio and/or video directly from the browser window (inside the message stream). The resulting audio and video recordings will be streamed directly to a media server. Audio and video content is to be played directly in the browser without having to access plug-in applications such as QT, Flash Player or Silverlight. The video that is generated in this way will be stored on the server and displayed to the teacher inside a message that is associated with the corresponding student account. These functions will be realised using WebRTC.

Work Package 2.2 – Chatbot/Autoresponder

In this step, an automated message function will be developed which triggers the release of automated messages to the students at pre-defined time intervals. These messages will relate to the currently active task. Also, automated responses will be triggered when a student sends a message to Professor S. (a sort of auto responder). For teachers, a function will be developed that allows messages to be released manually by remote control or at a predetermined time. An additional function for embedding images and videos into the message will also be developed.

Work Package 2.3 – Geolocation Game

In this step, a geolocation game, developed by the University of Bamberg will be integrated into the platform. The geolocation game uses the GPS function of tablet and smartphone computers to determine the student’s position in the room. The game works like a treasure hunt, and is intended as an activity for class and family field trips.

An HTML5 frontend will be developed that communicates with a backend developed by the University of Bamberg. It is planned to present the immediate environment of the students on a map. The position of the student is displayed as a GPS point (similar to Apple Maps). The next station of the treasure hunt is also shown on the map. If a player reaches the next station, a message is triggered.

Work Package 2.4 – Mini Game Hypermedia API

In this step, we will develop an API which will allow third party games to be integrated into the “Professor S.” platform. Mini games will send usage data to the reporting tool and mini games will receive user data from the platform.

Work Package 2.5 – Recommendation System

In this step, we will develop a recommendation engine that will recommend related content to any given active task. The content will be appropriately tagged and pushed to the foreground, depending on which task is currently active. The system work in a similar way to the way a blog site might recommend related posts by looking at their tags.

Work Package 2.6 – Video Upload/Transcoder

Here, we will build a function that will allow film production companies and distributors to upload video content through an interface to a server. This video content will be transcoded into several formats on the server and made available to students and teachers via a CDN.

Work Package 2.7 – Platform Support and Trouble Solving

(June 2014 – December 2014) In this step, functions developed in WP1 and WP2 will be supported technically. This includes technical support for schools and at home. Problems with design, backend and frontend programming will be documented via online chat or in a support and ticketing system (see also WP4.4), and processed in order of priority.

Time schedule WP2: