Conference trip to DATE in Dresden

A short walk from the conference venue is the Kronentor gate of the Zwinger palace.

This year the Design, Automation and Test in Europe conference (DATE) takes place in Dresden, Germany. I had the chance travel to Dresden to demonstrate our recent work RISC-V processor modeling in IP-XACT using Kactus2 at the University Booth. The modeling target is PULPino, a 32-bit RISC-V single-core microcontroller, whose structure and configurations we capture with our open-source graphical IP-XACT design environment Kactus2, The modeling is still a work-in-progress and already covers almost 200 IP-XACT XML files which are available in GitHub. Once completed, the model makes it  easy to integrate PULPino into new designs for e.g. IoT devices. It also serves as a public example of IP-XACT use in a decently complex application, something we have been lacking for years despite the fact that IP-XACT is widely accepted as the industry standard for IP packaging.

Me at the University Booth.

The University Booth exhibits both hardware and software demonstrators and provides a great forum for discussing ongoing research topics. The booths display a great variety of topics: electronic design automation, analog design, mixed-signal design, neural network controllers for autonomous robots, wireless sensor systems and many more. Most demonstrators also run live on a prototype and the tables were served with a wide range of platforms from Raspberry Pis to FPGAs.

After three days at the University Booth, I attended the Embedded Software for Industrial IoTs (ESIIT) workshop on the final day of the conference. This was the first time ESIIT was organized as part of the conference and proved out to be a success with a lot of submissions, attendees and active discussion. The day was filled with great talks, poster presentations and discussion around the broad topic of industrial IoTs. A lot of attention was given to modeling and meta-modeling as a part of the design flow, firmware optimizations and power management. My invited talk Bridging the Gap between Hardware Description Languages and IP-XACT focused on easing the transition of legacy code bases to IP-XACT supported design flow.

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What’s for lunch, Pepper?

Our Pepper is learning new tricks. After becoming a TV star, Pepper decided to try a new occupation, and ventured out to the field last Friday, March 16th. You may have spotted the friendly robot on that morning at the TUT main building lobby.

Pepper’s one and only task on that day was to help out hungry lunch-goers by showing them the menus of four restaurants on the campus. People could interact with the robot via dialogue, or if it didn’t work out, via the tablet on Pepper’s chest. The test was conducted in Finnish, one person at a time or in groups of 2-4 people, and the active interaction between a human and the robot was quite brief, typically between 30-120 seconds.

So you’d like to see Reaktori’s lunch menu? Okay, Pepper at your service!

The study will become a part of Antero Tossavainen’s PhD in Industrial and Information Management. The aim is to bring the voice of the customer to the fuzzy front-end of new product development. A merry group of students on the Challenge-Based Innovation class also gave many helping hands in recruiting participants and collecting questionnaire forms. And boy, did we need a hand! The trial was supposed to start at 10:30 am, but passers-by began getting interested in Pepper already around 9:30, just a few minutes after we got there and Pepper had settled in and woken up. The target number of participants was 60, but we ended up with about a double that number. So, Antero got a lot of data to analyze… we’ll surely write more about that later.

We sometimes face challenges recruiting participants to user studies. Not on that day.

Although operating Pepper required most of my attention, I managed to jot down some observations about the ways people interacted with Pepper, noticeable issues, and comments I heard people make.

  • Anthropomorphizing (treating the robot as human-like) varies by individual: for example, one person asked, “Who is he?” instead of “What is it?” when seeing the robot for the first time. Perceptions also differed: one person commented after interacting with Pepper: “It is scary!”, whereas another thought its voice was the cutest.
  • Emotions: I could see lots of amusement, occasional frustration, also some apprehension. Obviously some of the emotions may have been brought up by the artificial situation and by being observed by researchers, but the first reactions to the robot were still interesting to witness.
  • Expectations: Some people started the dialogue as if talking to a real person who could understand requests like “Do you have mashed potatoes?”, “Gimme everything”, or “Well let’s see, how about we check that Soossibaari at Konetalo?” Soon they realized that the robot doesn’t (yet) possess that much intelligence and its knowledge is limited, and reverted to simple and brief statements.
  • Speech recognition: Challenging, especially when noisy. One of the restaurants, Newton, was hard for Pepper to understand in spoken form. I mean, really hard. Several people tried it three or four times in different ways (“Nyytton… Nyyton… Newton… Nyyttoni”) before giving up and either selecting it from the tablet or, as happened more often, saying “Reaktori” or some other restaurant. Although I had programmed five variations of the possible pronunciations of the word, it failed to recognize them most of the time. Otherwise Pepper did all right, except for occasional rudeness, such as telling “okay, bon appetit” to a person who was asking it to read the menus out loud and claimed: “I’m blind, I can’t read”. In all fairness, the person wasn’t really blind, so perhaps Pepper detected the deception attempt 😉 In any case, it seems to be quite difficult to make the robot understand foreign names in Finnish, or vice versa. (There may be some sort of a language tag that could be input into the dialogue syntax, though. Something I’ll need to look into.)

All in all, a very good experience on the field! Many thanks to the good people at Industrial and Information Management, and of course to the participants.

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3DFysio-projekti: Fysioterapian opettajan ajatuksia kuntoutusteknologian hyödyntämisestä fysioterapeuttikoulutuksessa

Teknologian hyödyntäminen fysioterapiassa ja koulutuksessa

Kuntoutusteknologia kehittyy ja sen hyödyntäminen fysioterapiassa yleistyy ja monipuolistuu jatkuvasti. Teknologiaosaaminen on yksi fysioterapian ydinosaamisen osa-alueista, joten sen osa-alueen opetus on tärkeää huomioida fysioterapeuttikoulutuksessa. Teknologiaosaaminen on huomioituna useiden Tampereen ammattikorkeakoulun (TAMK) fysioterapian koulutusohjelman opintojaksojen osaamistavoitteissa. Kurssiopetuksessa kuntoutusteknologia tulee parhaiten esille terapeuttisen harjoittelun opintojaksossa ja pelillisyyden osalta lasten fysioterapian opintojaksossa.

Teknologian käyttö fysioterapiassa liittyy tutkimiseen, ohjaukseen ja neuvontaan, terapeuttiseen harjoitteluun ja fysikaaliseen terapiaan itsenäisenä toimintana, mutta myös osana laajempaa moniammatillista kuntoutusta. Fysioterapiassa korostuu teknologiaa hyödyntävä tutkiminen (esim. goniometrit, biofeedback, ultraääni), teknologian käyttöön liittyvä asiakkaan ja omaisten ohjaus, neuvonta ja motivointi (esim. aktiivisuusmittarit). Fysioterapiassa korostuu myös teknologiaa hyödyntävän terapeuttisen harjoittelun suunnittelu, toteutus ja seuranta (esim. tasapainoon, kävelyyn ja lihasvoiman harjoitteluun liittyvä teknologia) sekä teknologian käyttö oireiden mukaisessa terapiassa, kuten esim. kivun tai lihastonuksen hallinnassa (esim. sähköärsytyslaitteet). (Suomen Fysioterapeutit, 2016.)

Fysioterapeuttiopiskelijoille kuntoutusteknologia tulee todennäköisimmin parhaiten esille TAMK:n hyvinvointiklinikalla, jossa jokainen opiskelija suorittaa ammattitaitoa edistävän viiden viikon mittaisen harjoittelun. Hyvinvointiklinikalla on käytössä kuntoutusteknologiaa hyödyntävien mittareiden osalta mm. kehonkoostumusmittari, Firsbeat –hyvinvointianalyysi, polkupyöräergometri, Valedo Shape ja Valedo Motion (selän tutkiminen), tasapainodynamometri ja kuntosalilaitteistoa.

Kuvassa mitataan henkilön huojuntaa seisoma-asennossa tasapainon kartoittamiseksi.

TAMK tekee myös yhteistyötä monien eri tahojen kanssa, jotka hyödyntävät kuntoutusteknologiaa. Muun muassa TAYS:in fysiatrian osaston testilaboratoriossa opiskelijat pääsevät näkemään ja kokeilemaan voimadynamometria, ultraääntä, pinta EKG-laitteistoa ja kävelyn analysointia voimalevyanturilla. Myös joka toinen vuosi järjestettävät apuvälinemessut ovat oiva keino päivittää tietoa kuntoutusteknologiasta. Fysioterapeuttiopiskelijat ovatkin messujen ajan avustamassa ja ohjaamassa asiakkaita kokeilemaan eri toimintoja.

Etäkuntoutus herättää pohdintaa opiskelijoissa

Etäkuntoutus toimii fysioterapiassa osana ryhmämuotoista harjoittelua, jatkokuntoutusprosessissa tai osana lähikontaktissa tapahtuvaa fysioterapiaa. Kun viimeisen vuoden fysioterapeuttiopiskelijoilta kysyttiin: ”Minkälaisia teknologiaratkaisuja tiedät olevan olemassa tai käytettävän etäkuntoutuksessa?” vastauksissa nousi esille monelle tuttuja asioita. Älypuhelin, askelmittari, aktiivisuusranneke, sykemittari sekä kuntoutusohjelmat kuten Physiotools ja Fysiofile. Tosin yksittäisiä kommentteja tuli myös päälle puettavista älyvaatteista tai jumppaohjaajarobotista tai kipupäiväkirjasovelluksesta.

Keskustelussa nousi esille, että tuleva ikääntyvä sukupolvi osaa vieläkin enemmän ja paremmin hyödyntää teknologiaa ja käyttää erilaisia sovelluksia. Pohdintaa herättikin etäkuntoutus fysioterapeutin näkökulmasta. Fysioterapeutti tekee töitä käsillään ja luottaa fyysiseen kosketukseen sekä tarkkoihin silmiin. Fysioterapeutti luottaa käsien tuntumaan tutkimalla lihaskireyksiä ja liikelaajuuksia, silmät tarkkailevat ryhtiä ja liikettä monesta suunnasta, moniulotteisesti. Teknologian lisääntyessä fyysisen kosketuksen merkitystä ei tule unohtaa. Se lisää mielihyvähormoneja kehossa ja vähentää stressihormonien määrää.

Kuvassa Tanita –kehonkoostumusanalysaattori, jolla pystytään suorittamaan nopea ja tarkka kehonkoostumusmittaus. Mittauksessa arvioidaan mm. kehon metabolinen ikä suhteessa kalenteri-ikään, kehon rasvaprosentti sekä erotellaan sisäelinten ympärille kertyneen rasvan määrä.

Jutun kirjoitti Tampereen ammattikorkeakoulun fysioterapian lehtori Hannu Järvinen, joka osallistuu 3DFysio –projektiin.

Posted in Digikuntoutus, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Person of the Day: University Teacher Sakari Lahti

Hailing from Kokkola, my story at TUT begins back in 1997 when I came here to study physics. I graduated in 2002 but soon understood that I would never be the next Einstein. Therefore, in 2008 I decided to switch my career to something easier: digital systems and computer engineering. I graduated again at TUT in 2014 and continued on to doctoral studies supervised by Prof. Timo D. Hämäläinen.

I found myself occupied with at least as much teaching as researching. I have teached on Digital Design, DSP Implementations, Logic Synthesis, Microprocessors, System Design, and Computer Architecture courses among others, as well as supervised B.Sc. theses. This March I was appointed as a university teacher at our laboratory. My research involves high-level synthesis, i.e. how to describe digital systems using “high-level” languages such as C++.

My passion in leisure time is different kinds of games. These include not only PC games but also board games and pen & paper role playing games (not to be confused with LARPing). I wonder how many employees at our laboratory have delved in dungeons and battled dragons with their friends in their formative years. Some of us still do it weekly :). I am also deeply interested in physics, cosmology, philosophy, history, and politics. I take advantage of the Tamppi Areena gym to prevent being a total couch potato.

Posted in employee of the day, people, research, teaching | 1 Comment

Visit to European Robotics Forum (13-15.3. in Tampere-talo)

European Robotics Forum visit provided a very pleasing overview to all kinds of robotic related topics and most importantly, it was a good opportunity to experience a great variety of different robots in action. There were small and large robots, robots of many different shapes, human-like and machine-like robots, robots in different colors, friendly looking and a bit scary ones, quiet and noisy robots, even one musical robot. Many many robots for different purposes from assembly to preventing loneliness, from preparing drinks to carrying Moomin. The topics of the speeches varied from harsh environment robotics to ethical aspects, from care robots to exoskeletons.

This was the first robot of the day.

Some personal insights/experiences from the conference:

• The robotic arms are actually very fascinating. At best, their movements can be perfectly  beautiful. I got hooked on looking at the smooth movements of the two-armed robot by ABB. By using one’s imagination and combined with other elements such as appropriate music one could create stunning installations and trials for several different purposes outside of the factory setting. I got one crazy idea, which you may be able to experience later on… Stay tuned!

The fascinating robotic arms with so smooth and beautiful movements.. It is the shame that the movements are not visible on the picture.

• It seems that even the simplest and most machine-like robotic products can be re-designed to promote different feelings and enjoyment by combining the product with some aesthetic elements. For example, the dish collecting robot that moved autonomously on the restaurant area of the conference was a very relaxing experience. Why? Because it played relaxing music at the same time as it was moving. It was really nice to relax within the close proximity of the dish robot for a while. Who would have imagined that a dish robot (basically a moving robot cart) would make you relaxed in a conference?
• UX and in general, the softer side of robotics, is more and more coming to the field. Several speeches dealt with human-related aspects and many stakeholders are interested in getting UX people in their projects. It is a very good sign.

Which one is the teacher, and which one is the robot, out of these two options?

I am still missing one robotic experience – I wanted try out an exoskeleton and become a superwoman, but it was not available at this point. Maybe next year!

I am so cute <3



What do you think about me? What purposes I have been designed for?

Posted in RoboUX | 1 Comment

International students love Pepper!

Hi everyone! It has been a month I am working on Pepper now and my Master thesis topic is related to the cultural aspects in Human-Robot Interaction. I am particularly studying the expectations of international students with Pepper depending on their cultural values and how they interact with it. In this one month, I had a lot of request for making an appointment with Pepper! It is already a celebrity now. Few international students have interacted with Pepper. Although Pepper cannot do much yet, students have been very excited to interact with it as much as they can. In fact, they love Pepper! They have found Pepper very cute and tried out different voice commands and tablet apps. It has been interesting to notice the cultural impact while interacting with Pepper. Some would be very friendly from the beginning, and some would get comfortable after a while.

Pepper is also entertaining in the office, by friendly interference in conversations and flaunting its dancing skills. The robot family is very much attached with Pepper and we are proud to have this celebrity in our team.

Cheers: Aparajita, on behalf of the robot family (Aino, Kirsikka, Aleksi, Aparajita, Nao and Pepper)

Some students prefer to come to see Pepper in groups.


This student stood at a distance during initial interaction but got comfortable later.


Pepper greeting the student…


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TTA-based Co-design Environment (TCE) v1.17 released

In addition to pocl, the other open source project Customized Parallel Computing (CPC) research group has been leading the development of for quite some time is TTA-based Co-design Environment (TCE). TCE is an open source toolkit for design and programming of energy efficient application-specific processors based on the transport-triggered programming model. The customized processors designed with TCE can be implemented on new silicon ASIC designs and as FPGA soft cores.

Version 1.17 is mainly a maintenance release to receive the latest LLVM improvements. LLVM is the compiler framework used as a backbone in the TCE’s on-the-fly retargeting compiler.

Like pocl’s, also the TCE’s open source maintenance is supported the following funding sources: Academy of Finland (funding decision 297548), Business Finland (FiDiPro project StreamPro, 1846/31/2014) and HSA Foundation. We thank you again!

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Portable Computing Language (pocl) 1.1 released!

The Customized Parallel Computing (CPC) research group leads the development of an open source OpenCL implementation called Portable Computing Language (pocl). Today we are happy to announce its 1.1 release! This is mainly a bugfix and stabilization release, but includes also new features such as LLVM 6.0 support and improved kernel compilation speed.

We like to thank the Academy of Finland (funding decision 297548), Business Finland (FiDiPro project StreamPro, 1846/31/2014) and HSA Foundation for the support that keeps pocl development and maintenance going!

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Guest lectures in the computer graphics seminar

The computer graphics seminar had two guest lecturers this week.

In the first half of the lecture Antti Heinonen from Vertex Systems Oy gave a talk about 3D model simplifications and the glTF format. Simplification of a 3D model is an important task especially with CAD design models because they contain a lot of data. For example, a CAD model of a house might contain every nail and screw of the design. When the model is shown to a customer over the web these kinds of small details are unnecessarily slowing the rendering and loading performance.

In the second half of the lecture Anna-Liisa Mattila gave a talk about the 4k intros. Creation of 4k intros is an artform where the artist creates an audio-visual executable that takes less than 4 kilobytes of storage space. The executable is not allowed to load external data from the disk or the web. It is amazing how complex graphics and music can be fit into such a small amount of data. There are also competitions where a jury or the audience decides whose 4k intro is the best.

Having guest lecturers from companies is a very good manner of co-operation between university and industry. The students value the insights of worklife. This spring we have once again had many good guest lectures about many different topics. We thank all the guests investing their time and hope to keep up with this co-operation with companies!

Text: Matias Koskela, Essi Isohanni

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Guest lecture on real-time linux

Jouko Haapaluoma and Sami Pietikäinen from Wapice gave a guest lecture on real-time linux and driver development in TIE-50506 System Design on Mar 5 2018. The lecture covered the basics of building the kernel and kernel modules (drivers), and the recommended approaches for debugging with typical problems. The main challenge is the combination of real-time responsiveness and concurrency, which is by no means eased by code execution on different contexts the developer might not be well aware. Said that, the poor documentation of the kernel APIs leads to a practice in which nobody starts the driver development from scratch but customize some existing one. Maybe some university (us?) starts working on an open RT Linux driver development framework, which seems to be missing. The guest lecture notes and video recording are available in Moodle for TUT’s staff and students.

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