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IDC and Quantel develop novel live sports broadcast highlighting and editing system

16 February 2015

Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC) works with broadcast technology company, Quantel, to create a futuristic new control panel for Quantel’s LiveTouch studio sports highlighting system.

LiveTouch is designed for the demanding studio control room environment. It provides fast highlight selection from multiple incoming feeds, playlist editing and live playout control, taking advantage of Quantel’s high performance close-to-air broadcast server technology. The system’s control panel plays a key role in enabling fast and sure operation in high pressure live environments.

Being a product in constant use by sports and news editors, the early stages of the project focused heavily on user insight to gain a thorough understanding of how the product was going to be used by operators and their working environment to deliver a much improved user experience. IDC’s designers conducted extensive research by visiting studios to see other products in use, and speaking and listening to users to assess potential areas for improvement. 

From this user research, core insights were discovered. The shape of the product had to be comfortable for the user’s hand movements, taking into account the controls and direction of movement and change of position to work fast and efficiently. The footprint of the product was also a constraint as in some environments space is very much at a premium.

The use of a large dial (jog wheel) also became a key focus for the new product development as this was continually used to scroll through frames to set up start and stop points for each highlight. In-depth research and analysis showed that the jog wheels on existing models from other suppliers did not turn smoothly and were prone to ‘bouncing’ between frames.

Working with Quantel’s engineers has produced a class leading electromechanical design providing speed, accuracy and a deftness of touch needed for this application. The same approach was taken with the T-bar which needed to be robust whilst being precise and sensitive to the touch.

Taking these user needs into account, IDC’s designers developed a control panel with a refined, curved shape and soft-touch materials for user comfort. Visually the control surface was made more appealing by making it shallower in depth and more streamlined, which also added a sense of superior quality. 

In conjunction with Quantel’s software, the result is a simple interface with a mix of dedicated and soft-programmable buttons, responsive jog wheel and high-precision T-bar that make LiveTouch easily accessible to any experienced operator. Editors can punch in and out, mark interest points, block play with live speed control and add to/modify playlists - even while the playlist is on air. The LiveTouch panel makes it all simple and fast.

“We wanted a control panel for LiveTouch that would put the user at its heart so that operators could achieve the very best results with confidence," says David Throup, group leader, research at Quantel. "Slick functionality and comfort were central to the panel’s design. Completed neatly within a nine month timeframe, the LiveTouch control panel has been welcomed by our clients for its fast highlight selection and adaptable controls, as well as an unprecedented level of usability. It’s a great design.”

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