Project of the Day: Human-Centered Robotics (year 2018)

Human-Centered Robotics is a one-year project aiming to develop competences of TUT and Pervasive Computing Lab in human-robot interaction, from the perspective of the human. We are building new courses such as “User Experience in Robotics”, collaborating with various TUT labs and other organizations, carrying out field studies with social robots, and generating new scientific insights.

Project team: Aino Ahtinen (project lead), Aleksi Hiltunen, Aparajita Chowdhury, Chathura Yapa, Kirsikka Kaipainen, Nasim Beheshtian, Pepper, Nao siblings.


Robots often participate the lectures and exercises of UX in Robotics course.

We are currently teaching one specific course about human-centered robotics. The course is called UX in Robotics (TIE-41506) and it is taught in TUT campus on the fourth period. It is a multidisciplinary course, which means that students both from technical area (e.g. robotics, automation) as well as from humanistic areas (e.g. human-technology interaction, psychology, sociology) benefit from taking the course. In the course we learn robotics design from the human-centered and psychological perspective. We do hands-on assignments and exercises, experience real robots and visit different sites related to robotics. In addition, we have interesting participatory lectures. The robots have been integrated to other courses as well, such as Psychology of Pervasive Computing and User Experience Design & Evaluation. Robotic related assignments will be also integrated to some programming courses already during this autumn.

Research cases and concepts

Frenckell customer service point. Frenckell, the city of Tampere service point, provides services related to public transport, housing, permits etc. Pepper robot works as a “trainee” during a few days in 2018 at Frenckell, helping out and entertaining customers. Experiential and contextual factors in human-robot interaction in a public, official setting are the focus in this case. Our initial findings suggest that Pepper can evoke stimulation and relatedness experiences among customers. Read more at the Smart Tampere website and check a video. This research case is led by Kirsikka.

How can I help you?

Tammela school robot Elias. We are running a long-term user trial with Elias (Nao) robot in Tammela preliminary school. Elias teaches English and German for the schoolkids. We use multi-method approach on our user study: classroom observations, interviews, diary and questionnaires. So far, the findings are promising. Elias robot has has been warmly welcomed to the school and it has great potentials to motivate kids to learn languages. The study will last until December 2018 and it is led by Aino. Check the video about Elias.

Kids interact very naturally with Elias robot in the classroom.

Robot assisted break exercise. We should all have regular breaks from sitting and standing to maintain our physical well-being and energy. Nao robot has an ability to raise people’s curiosity and persuade them for making some simple movements in between  events and lectures. The concept will be developed further by Aino & Chathura based on the findings from the user studies on field settings, and it is continuation work for the former project around physically active ways of work.

Robot-assisted break exercise concept: Aino & Nao

Mentor robot. This case relates to Aparajita’s masters thesis. We have designed functionalities for Pepper in order to assist the new students with their first day. We have implemented functionalities, e.g. to show direction around the university, find a friend, and advertise activities and events. Furthermore, Pepper can entertain new students by singing and dancing and playing language quiz. We have conducted user interviews to find out the needs and expectations for Pepper. Then, Pepper interacted with the new students in the orientation week. We got valuable feedback of the target audience from interviews, observation and questionnaires. It was very interesting to observe the different reaction from the students.  Most of the people were excited and happy before and after interacting with Pepper. Furthermore, they perceived Pepper as a friend and a guide.

Pepper warmly welcomes new students to Tampere University of Technology in Aparajita’s trial!

Event robot. This Nasim’s thesis research case is mainly about social robots as facilitators of social connections for event participants. The aim of this case is to enhance the social and physical wellbeing of seminar attendees by the use of the social robot Pepper. We attend some events with Pepper and conduct some user studies and contextual inquiries, and finally create a concept based on the result of the study done earlier. Based on the results, we want to design a concept which can help seminar attendees to be able to have a better experience at events and be able to network with other people easier.

Nasim conducting her user research with Pepper in the Conference on work environment research, TUT, September 2018.

Chili – middleware to ease the programming of social robots. Aleksi’s Master’s thesis focuses on making it easier also for non-programmers to instruct Pepper and Nao to do various things. The aim of Chili is to provide a complementary tool for quickly running, testing and modifying different scenarios with a robot.

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TIE Nature Workshop around Robotics

“Aino, can we do this in weekly basis?” “Aino, can we do some more activities?” were the most commonly heard comments after the TIE Nature Workshop around Robotics, which was held in Kirskaanniemi trekking area (Lempäälä) on 11st of October, 2018. People from Pervasive Computing as well as Cognitive Robotics were invited to join a relaxational workshop in the forest and invent new ideas for robot related collaboration in the university.

The workshop included a  1 km Brainwolk walking meeting to the actual fire place. During the Brainwolk, the participants discussed in pairs about what kinds of robots they had met and what would be the robot of their dreams (and how is it related to AI). We also had a couple of nature-based activites along the way. The nature showed us it’s most wonderful colors while we were walking, as the forest was full of yellow leaves. Everything was so peaceful and everybody seemed to get relaxed.

On the fire place location (Kirskaanniemi) we had a learning cafe type of discussion around the following topics: how could robots be utilized in programming course as motivational characters, what kinds of models of agile collaboration we could have for programming the robots, and how could the robots support our wellbeing at work. Plenty of excellent ideas came up – we will be working with them soon. After that it was time to “burn” some sausages and marshmallows, and raise a toast to the anonymous person who just got older but decided never start behaving as a grown-up.

Thanks once more for everybody who joined, I hope you got good memories out of this lovely time that we spent together in the middle of nowhere and without any robots 🙂

CU and Cheers, Aino A.

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CityIoT – vendor-independent IoT applications for Smart Cities and beyond [2017-2020]

The problem

IoT systems offered by different vendors are often “silos”, where each vendor creates and controls their own separate system. These systems include physical components, such as sensors, as well as the data models and data analysis. Although this end-to-end control simplifies things, there are also serious drawbacks. Vendor lock-in means that new application innovations are hindered, and new data sources are difficult to add, when data models used by different vendors are not compatible.

CityIoT project

In CityIoT project our focus is in Smart Cities, cities where data is used to enhance the quality of life. In the IoT space cities face challenges that include:

  • how to develop applications that utilize data from several systems  operated by different organizations within cities
  • how to share the developed applications between cities
  • and especially, how to enable sustainable business ecosystem for companies that innovate in the area IoT

Our project strives to create a platform which helps communities in creating better services for people living in cities, all the while saving tax-payer money, and creating new business opportunities.

CityIoT project logo

CityIoT project logo

In practice, we in TUT work on open application interfaces, unified data models and reference implementations. The first candidate approach we are currently evaluating is the FIWARE-technology (see

Who we are – the consortium and the people

The project is executed in a consortium that includes, in addition to Pervasive Computing of TUT:

  • City of Tampere
  • City of Oulu
  • University of Oulu (coordinator)
  • University of Applied Sciences of Oulu.

In TUT the following people are working in this project:

Contact information

For more information, contact or We are happy to provide additional information!


The project is funded by:


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COMPACT 2017-2020

COMPACT (Cost-Efficient Smart System Software Synthesis) is an ITEA3 project with 15 partners from Finland, Germany and Austria. The project aims at automated SW stack generation for embedded and IoT devices, especially firmware including operating system, protocol stacks, device drivers and as a whole everything between the applications and bare metal. The project creates a tool flow that starts from high-level platform and SW modeling, goes through optimizations at source code and compilation level and ends up with an image to be flashed.

Picture: Esko Pekkarinen from our lab and the consortium leader Wolfgand Ecker from Infineon introducing the project at EUREKA Innovation Days 2018 in Helsinki.

Our focus is on creating IP-XACT models on RISC-V for platform generation, and optimization of deep learning algorithms and image processing algorithms for resource constrained platforms. We also develop Kactus2 tool and use Halide to model the algorithms. Our test platforms include embedded GPU and SoC-FPGA devices.

The core team members of the project are Timo D. Hämäläinen, Jani Boutellier and Esko Pekkarinen.

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Attending NordiCHI workshop for Designing for Experiences with Socially Interactive Robots

Written by Aparajita Chowhury

Hello everyone,

Recently I have attended a workshop at Nordichi conference, which was organized by two researchers of TUT (Aino Ahtinen and Kirsikka Kaipainen) along with two other researchers in the field of social robotics. Since my position paper was accepted in the workshop, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Norway and attend this renowned conference. The conference was held in the University of Oslo and Kirsikka Kaipainen accompanied me.

How beautiful is University of Oslo in autumn

The workshop kicked off by Dr. Mohammad Obaid (University of New South Wales, Australia) with the most debatable question “What is a robot?” and “When should we design a robot?” We should also consider the purpose for building a robot and if the users actually needs a robot in certain case. Furthermore, we discussed about the value of having a robot so that it is just not a tablet with a face! Moving on, Dr. Ioana Ocnarescu (Strate School of Design, France) discussed about rituals and how designers utilize that in their designs to evoke an emotional experience. She gave an example of how making tea is a ritual in Japanese culture and how they enjoy the process.

Some organizers attended the workshop remotely

The participants also presented their position paper, and very interesting concepts we unfold. One participant discussed about how movement in robots influence user experience. Another participant proposed an augmented reality based car robot that projects children’s preferred image.

Later on, we moved on to the experience design phase, which was led by Kirsikka Kaipainen. We were divided into two teams and we were given PLEX cards to influence our design ideas. Our team chose to enhance user experience of industrial robots. From the PLEX cards, we finalized three experiences to work with; Relaxation, Submission and Captivation. Thus we came up with a concept of bunny industrial robot.

Overall it was a nice experience for me, since I have attended such workshops for the first time. I hope, in future, I get the opportunity to represent Tampere University of Technology in more conferences and workshops.

A glimpse of our industrial bunny robot

Aparajita Chowdhury

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ORConf 2018 in Gdansk

This year ORConf, the open source digital design conference, was hosted by Gdansk University of Technology in Poland. Three days of presentations and discussion covered an amazing range of topics such as RISC-V, tooling, hardware description languages (HDL), formal verification, licensing, and project updates just to name a few. A full list of the presentation topics can be found on the ORConf webpage and also both the slides and video recordings should be available soon.

Before the conference officially started, I had a few hours time to walk around the Old Town of Gdansk, which is filled with wonderful architecture, cozy restaurants and small shops. Walking is definitely the easiest way to get around since many of the streets are closed for car traffic and the distances between interesting spots are short.

Friday featured talks on RISC-V instruction set architecture, some of its open-source implementations, toolchain and leveraging the Scala programming language for designing hardware. The PULP project has developed a whole RISC-V platform targeting the low energy needs of IoT devices with an array of cores. Another interesting implementation is the SCR1, which provides a full MCU that can be configured for small area and has both academic and commercial users.

Saturday focused more on the open-source tools already available or under development. Projects such as nextpnr (place-and-route) and Symbiflow (bitstream generation) really show the amazing effort dedicated on providing open-source tools for FPGA development. Before lunch we had a rapid-fire of project introductions in the form of 3-minute lightning talks, including a live demo. Perhaps the most anticipated speaker for the day was Wilson Snyder, the main author of the free Verilog HDL simulator Verilator, who presented how adding multithreading speeds up the simulation in the latest version. As for something new in ORConf, we finished the second day with a panel discussion around the topic of the next major step for enabling open-source hardware. This and many other discussions continued late at the traditional conference dinner in the Old Town.

Frank K. Gürkaynak giving his talk on open-source hardware licensing and his experience on the (non-)collaboration of the industrial players.

On the third and final day the topics ranged from system-on-chip debugging to VHDL methodology for verification. Also Haskell was proposed as an HDL enabling the designers to use functional programming techniques for generating Verilog and VHDL. All in all, these three days certainly catered interesting topics for everybody and served as a great forum for discussion on anything related to open-source hardware.

As a final note I wish to thank the organizers at FOSSI foundation for their work to make ORConf possible.

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Procem – prosumer-consumer markets with advanced ICT-solutions

Procem project is a cross-disciplinary project executed by four different laboratories (Electrical Energy Engineering, Automation and Hydraulic Engineering, Industrial and Information Management, Pervasive Computing) of TUT.  The planning of the project started by a question what will be the  “uber of electricity”. The drivers of the project are

  • increased concern of sustainability and climate change
  • energy production and storage in small units close to customers (e.g. solar panels, batteries and electric cars)
  • changes in markets and pricing schemes of electricity
  • availability of new technologies like IoT, data analysis and blockchains.

One major effort we have involved is creation of the a pilot and demonstrator that collects huge amount of data from Campus Arena for dash boards and applications. An example dashboard is shown below:

Concretely, our laboratory has been involved in definition and piloting of the data platform Procem

  • collecting data from existing sensors – with lot of challenges in adapting to various protocols,
  • filtering and buffering data before sending it to an existing IoT platform IoTTicket
  • distributed architecture between centralised IoT platform and edge
  • experiments with data analysis (random forest) techniques to find new phenomena from the data
  • experiments to use blockchains (Ethereum smart contracts) with the data
  • conversion of the data to standard data format (FIWARE)

Contributors from Pervasive Computing:

  • Ville Heikkilä
  • Otto Hylli
  • Nyyti Kinnunen
  • Teemu Laukkarinen
  • Kari Systä

For more information contact



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Group of the day: Ultravideo group

We are starting a new series, “Group of the day”, in addition to Person and Project of the day. This new series introduces our resreach groups and teams at the Pervasive Computing lab. The order is randomized and we pick a new group about every second week.  The first one is here:

Ultra Video Group is a leading academic video coding group in Finland. We have over 15-year experience in conducting pioneering research on video/image processing systems. The group has grown steadily over the years and it is currently composed of 18 video coding experts. Our growth is mainly driven by industrial demand and we are nowadays an internationally recognized player in the field. During the last five years, we have been a partner in four European research projects including H2B2VS, 4KREPROSYS, VIRTUOSE, and PRYSTINE as well as in several national projects.

Our mission is to create world-class video coding solutions on various platforms ranging from low-power embedded devices to highly distributed cloud environments. We are the creators of the award-winning Kvazaar open-source HEVC encoder and we are also active developers of next-generation video coding technologies and systems such as

  • Immersive 3D/360 video coding for virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR)
  • Versatile Video Coding (VVC)
  • Deep learning based video coding and annotation
  • Hardware accelerated video coding though High-Level Synthesis
  • Multimedia applications powered by Kvazaar

The applications of our particular interest include live HEVC encoding, remote VR gaming, video conferencing, intelligent vehicles, 4K TV production, video surveillance, and video on demand (VoD). One of our primary assets is to provide dedicated video coding solutions not available off the shelf. We are delighted to see our results deployed in the partner companies’ commercial products and welcome collaboration with the most demanding video processing challenges.

We are currently searching for new ambitious and motivated BSc/MSc/PhD students and postdocs to join our team. Please send us ( your CV and study record if you would like to become an expert in the future video coding.

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ATHENA: Authenticated Encryption Analysis

As opposed to a traditional block cipher that only provides confidentiality, Authenticated Encryption (AE) is a cryptographic primitive achieving confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity in a single function. AE is a fundamental concept in e.g. TLS, with several cipher suites utilizing AES Galois Counter Mode (GCM). Briefly, a TLS Cipher Suite is a combination of cryptographic algorithms to achieve a number of high level security goals.

ATHENA is a two year Academy of Finland project (grant 303814, PI Assistant Professor Billy Bob Brumley) that scrutinizes one of those goals in particular: authentication. Furthermore, in the context of real-world systems and protocols, TLS being the focus and OpenSSL the most popular open source implementation. ATHENA is coming to an end this year, so in this blog post we highlight three research results from this successful NISEC project.

Continue reading

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Davide Taibi’ Colloquium on Microservices at the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences

Davide Taibi has been invited to present his research on Cloud Software Engineering at the Service Prototyping Lab of the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

Colloquium on “Microservice migration: motivations, patterns and antipatterns”

He presented the research carried out in the context of migration to microservices.





Microservices is a relatively new architectural pattern. They are increasing their popularity in the industry, being adopted by several big players such as Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, and many others and several companies are now following the trend, migrating their systems to microservices. However, microservices are not the silver bullet, and several companies are migrating to microservices hoping to achieve different benefits.

In this seminar, he presented his research interests, and latest publications, introducing the motivations, issues, and benefits of microservices[1] including technical and cost issues [4]. He presented the most common microservices migration processes, microservices architectural patterns [2],  microservice bad smells [3] and a process mining approach to slice monolithic systems into microservices [under review]. Moreover, he introduced technical debt and continuous architecture issues during the rearchitecting processes [5] and the initial result of a migration framework to evaluate the effectiveness of the migration to microservices.

More information can be found on the slides presented during the seminar and on the referenced papers.


[1] D. Taibi, Lenarduzzi, V. , and Pahl, C. , “Processes, Motivations and Issues for Migrating to Microservices Architectures: An Empirical Investigation”, IEEE Cloud Computing Journal, vol. 4, no. 5, 2017.

[2] D. Taibi, Lenarduzzi, V. , and Pahl, C. , “Architectural Patterns for Microservices: A Systematic Mapping Study”, in 8th International Conference on Cloud Computing and Services Science, CLOSER , 2018

[3] D. Taibi and Lenarduzzi, V. , “On the Definition of Microservice Bad Smells”, IEEE Software , vol. 35, no. 3, 2018

[4] P. Rosati, Fowley, F. , Pahl, C. , Taibi, D. , and Lynn, T. , “Making the Cloud work for Software Producers: linking Architecture, Operating Cost and Revenue”, in 8th International Conference on Cloud Computing and Services Science, 2018

[5] L. Valentina and Davide, T. , “Microservices, Continuous Architecture, and Technical Debt Interest: An Empirical Study”, in Euromicro/SEAA, Prague, 2018

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