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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Person of the Day: Assistant Professor Billy Brumley

My employees were nice enough to come up with three questions, allowing me to share some of my insight into security and cryptography. At least, I hope I have some insight 😉 I give some bio stuff at the end to get an idea of my background. Also, here is an interview I recently gave to Rajapinta. Anyway, on with the questions!

Worldwide, it seems that there is an ever increasing demand for crypto- and security-related products and experts in every aspect of society, for consumers’ products, in companies, in the military and in all kind of infrastructures. Tampere aims to be the first digital smart city in Finland, and Finland used to be among the leading countries when it came down to research and development in these fields. Yet it seems that recently there has been a downward trend on the number of research groups and projects on these topics in the Finnish academic world. Why do you think this happened and how do you think it will evolve?

Maybe 12 years ago, when I was still an MSc student at Aalto (then HUT) I worked for the Interconnected Broadband Home Networks (InHoNets) project; the main PI for the consortium was Prof. Jarmo Harju (who went on to recruit me in my current position roughly 8 years later). I remember as part of one of the project meetings we visited Tampere, and toured an NRC “smart apartment”. It seemed so crazy at the time — like The Jetsons.

Trusted Execution Environments (TEE) are a buzzword over the past few years. But Nokia had commercial TEEs and trusted applications even in their feature phones long before smartphones even existed.

My point is, Finland is often ahead of it’s time with technology. Somehow this small country experiences hyper evolution when it comes to new technologies — take for example mobile phone adoption and coverage. It’s a good and bad thing to be ahead of the curve. When you look at worldwide research trends, in Finland you sometimes get the feeling “we did that last decade”. But when you see disruptive technology, and your research in Finland is already one or two generations ahead, it can be a crushing blow.

When I finished my BSc in 2002, I couldn’t land a security-related job. So I went to graduate school instead. Now, the market demand for security experts is ridiculous. It also means it’s that much harder to keep talented people in academia. Couple that with nationwide budget cuts to research funding, and it’s a bad situation that I personally feel explains the current trend. And I don’t know how to fix that. My advice to those unsure whether to take the academic or industry path: industry simply cannot match the freedom you get in academia. I’ve experienced it firsthand.

What would you say to motivate students to focus their interests on your field of study, especially considering that in general people associate Cryptography with crazy scientists working on obscure and hard math problems?

When I was in industry working in product security, we hired an awful lot of cryptographers. Yet we did surprisingly little crypto. I always say that’s because cryptographers understand threat modeling extremely well, which has wide applications in security as a whole.

So to me, crypto is less about obscure math, but instead about being able to think deviously. So kids, study cryptography: get paid to think and act like a criminal.

In the aftermath of the Meltdown and Spectre attacks, considering their impact on the press, on the stock market and in the ongoing process of mitigating their impact at different levels, what is your opinion on the role of research on the field of microarchitectural side-channel attacks in the past and in the future, when it comes down to the design and the production of consumer electronics?

Security always has and always will be a second class concept when it comes to design, whether it be software or hardware. At the uarch level, it’s even worse; mitigations negatively impact performance, which is really the whole point of uarch optimizations. Some journalist will take your chip vs your competitor’s chip, run some benchmarks, and throw some bar graphs on Twitter. Try explaining in 140 characters or less why it’s OK your’s performed 10% worse, but has e.g. a secure caching mechanism 🙂

My bold prediction: over the next decade or so, we’ll start to see more wide-spread exploitation of uarch side-channels in the wild. Low-hanging traditional software defects are getting rarer and harder to exploit for many reasons — for example, software quality improvements from fuzz testing. Attackers will adapt and start utilizing these more advanced uarch techniques.

So I see the role of research in uarch side-channels as only increasing in the near future.

A native Texan born in 1981, Bill Brumley is an Assistant Professor in the Laboratory of Pervasive Computing at Tampere University of Technology, Finland. He is a former Staff Engineer for Qualcomm’s Product Security Initiative (QPSI) in San Diego, California. He holds a Doctor of Science in Technology from Aalto University (Finland, 2012), a Licentiate of Science in Technology from Helsinki University of Technology (Finland, 2009), a Master of Science in Technology from Helsinki University of Technology (Finland, 2006), and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Sul Ross State University (USA, 2002). He is an Aalto University School of Science Doctoral Dissertation Award recipient (2012) and two-time Nokia Foundation Scholarship recipient (2010, 2009). He specializes in cryptography engineering and side-channel analysis. He is a father, avid outdoorsman, and Rubik’s cube enthusiast. He is currently a Visiting Professor at Stellenbosch University (South Africa) in the Department of Mathematical Sciences (photo).

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When our Pepper robot became a TV star…

The day full of Actor-Robot Interaction

On Monday 19th of February the Human-Centered Robotics team was invited to YLE studios with Pepper. The purpose of the day was to shoot material for Robomestarit television series. Robomestarit is a production that is made in co-operation between Innokas network and YLE. The aim of the television series and online materials is to positively encourage programming in elementary schools, and provide pragmatic materials to support programming related activities in schools and childrens’ clubs. The television series will be broadcasted on television during April-May 2018.

“Where Am I?”

So, Pepper is a star now. Everything went well in the studio and Pepper behaved perfectly, thanks to Kirsikka as Pepper’s operator 🙂 We were hosted by Jyrki Laaksonen (whom you may  know from Pikku Kakkonen), the director of the Robomestarit production. We were warmly welcomed to YLE and we got a chance to work with many nice, friendly and professional people during the day. The atmosphere in YLE studios was just great! Everybody was interested in Pepper and we were surrounded by friendly faces and chat.

“I have never been here before..”

In addition to experiencing the shooting process, it was very interesting to observe Actor-Robot Interaction as well as Director-Robot Interaction in the studio. Here, some comments about this novel type of interaction directly from the actor Juho Kemell and the director Jyrki Laaksonen himself:

“This was my first time working with the robot so that we spoke and interacted together. It was fun. Although with the robot you need to wait until it speaks. With people you can see many things out of the gestures and expressions. But it was fun and worked well. Children and even adults fall in love with this robot.” (Juho Kemell, the actor in Robomestarit)

“It was the first time for me to work with a humanoid robot. Previously we have had visits to see industrial robots. It went now well with Pepper. Maybe required more time than with a human actor. Pleasant experience! It is quite convincing. The eyes look like being present, and it listens, and it seems to take you into account by turning to you and so. Very sympathetic.” (Jyrki Laaksonen, the director of Robomestarit)

And.. Action!!

“It is very cold out here..”

“Oh, are we in space now?”

Actor-Robot Interaction.

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Erno Salminen’s guest lecture on HW/SW degugging

As part of TIE-50506 System Design, Erno Salminen from Nokia Networks gave a guest lecture on HW/SW debugging on Monday Feb 19 2018. Erno got the PhD at our lab in 2010 and when moved to Nokia SoC team has contributed to the new generation ReefShark. In the guest lecture he gave practical examples on the debugging challenges. Interestingly, much attention should be paid on teams collaboration. It no longer holds the saying that if HW team makes a mistake let the SW team fix it. They won’t because of the amount of legacy code – unless it was not really a mistake but a feature not properly used. Erno’s lecture notes are available in Moodle for TUT’s staff and students.

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Person of the Day: University Lecturer Timo Aaltonen

I work as a University Lecturer in the Laboratory of Pervasive Computing. Since, my discipline is the data science, I’m responsible for teaching the all the database courses. As Big data rules the world, I have created a new course called Data-Intensive Programming. Sometimes, I organize seminars on interesting topics, also.

I have a long history in TUT. I started my studies in the late 80’s at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (sp?). I graduated at some point in the middle of 90’s and started the doctoral studies. I had a privilege to get supervision from the living legend professor Reino Kurki-Suonio and professor Tommi Mikkonen. I got my doctoral degree at 2005.

After few years in the Department of Software Systems, I joined Nokia at 2010. Timing could not have been worse. The company was spinning down. The Burning-Platform Speech was given next year. At 2013 I packed my staff and came back to TUT. When I came back, I led research which lead to establishing a apin-off company Wellness Warehouse Engine ( W2E service collects human wellness data (daily activity, weight, the quality of sleep, …), unify it (same units, similar structure) and offer the data via a well-defined REST API to third parties – with a permission from data owner, of course. I’m the CEO of the company.

On the free time my time is occupied by boy scouting. I’m a leader of a cub pack Ahmat (dozen 10 years old boys) in the scout group Tampereen Kotkat. Moreover, I play ice hockey in a hobby club Rangers (formerly Nokia Rangers). I’m an eager but hazardous left wing. I’m also enthusiastic for sailing. However, I’m currently executing a human experiment to test how long one can live without a sailing boat.

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Human-Centered Robotics project and teaching @ TUT

Hey there!

How about a short physical exercise or walking meeting with me? Let’s do it!

We have started a new project around Human-Centered Robotics and UX in Robotics and you can imagine that we are very excited about it 🙂 The goal of the project is to develop competences of TUT and TIE lab on the area of designing robotic systems for the use of human beings, and build strong connections, understanding and cooperation between the competences from the technological side and human-centered design side (inside TUT labs and outside).

During this year, we will teach a completely new course called “UX in Robotics” on the fourth period (you can still enroll :). This new course covers the important aspects of user experience in human-robot interaction and gives students opportunities to apply this knowledge in robotics design. Students will get to know the current research in human-robot interaction, including collaborative robots, social and service robots, persuasive robots and cross-cultural aspects in HRI. The course includes practical user experience and interaction design assignments related to the aforementioned topics. We will also have a visiting lecture about collaborative robots given by Dr. Roel Pieters from TUT RoboLab.

We already arranged a doctoral seminar on Perspectives of Human-Robot Interaction – Social Robots in December 2017. It was a succesful day with invited speakers and hands on concepting work about the the social robotics. The students also had a possibility to familiarize and interact with Pepper and Nao.

From the cultural perspective, it is very interesting to observe for example the distances that people from different cultures prefer when interacting with the social robots, as well as do they approach robots independently or in group. The picture was taken in the seminar on Perspectives of Human-Robot Interaction, December 2017.

During this year, there will also be 2-3 diploma thesis workers doing interesting studies around the topic and working with our social robots Pepper and Nao. Together with students we will do user trials and studies with the robots in the field settings. Our topics include (but are not limited to), e.g. customer service, rehabilitation, learning, cross-cultural factors in HRI and robotic persuasion in the office. Our ways of working are very iterative, agile and flexible – as we learn, then we apply. And we will also have fun, definitely 🙂

The human-centered design and UX research is needed before these guys are released from the cage. The picture was taken in TUT Robolab.

Let’s talk more about it!

Cheers; Aino, Kirsikka, Aparajita, Aleksi, Pepper & Nao – The Human-Centered Robotics Team

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A new course on gamification this spring!

Photo: David Grandmougin

A new course on gamification, TIE-40306 Gamification: A Walkthrough of How Games Are Shaping Our Lives, will be organized for the first time this spring. On the course top experts on gamification will introduce different aspects to the phenomenon that is increasingly apparent and significant in our lives. Description of the course can be found in the study guide.

The course gives a broad overview of how games and game-related technologies shape our lives. The course enables the student to understand and analyze the pervasiveness of games and game-related technologies in different domains of culture and society, how they affect and shape our behaviors and interactions with the world.

After completing the course, the students has an overview of e.g. the following topics:

  • Relevant terminology and background of gamification
  • Theoretical background, e.g. psychological and behavior change related aspects of gamification
  • Design aspects related to gamification
  • Topical areas of
    • Virtual and game economies
    • eSports and other forms of games as work
    • Gamification of media
    • AR and VR technologies
    • Gamification of health
    • Gamification of education

Registration to the course is open until 2.3.2018! Welcome to join!

Jonna Koivisto (teacher responsible)

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Person of the Day: Assistant Professor David Hästbacka


My name is David Hästbacka and I joined the Laboratory of Pervasive Computing in February as an Assistant Professor in the field of software engineering. Some of you might have seen me before as I’m not new to TUT and moved here from the Faculty of Engineering Sciences.

My background is in Automation engineering but my previous research as well as my studies have always been computer science related, and applied to industrial automation and production settings. My doctoral dissertation (in 2013) concerned model-driven (software) development of industrial control applications including domain-specific modeling, model transformations and engineering processes. Before joining Pervasive Computing I was working as an Academy Postdoctoral Researcher in the Laboratory of Automation and Hydraulic Engineering.

My primary research interests are in interoperability and integration of software based systems, and my current research concentrates around a few projects targeting industrial production environments. In the Academy of Finland funded Postdoctoral Researcher project I’m researching semantic interoperability of system interfaces using interface descriptions and mediation techniques. Flexible production environments with cloud, edge and locally deployed data-analytics services are researched in the EU ECSEL funded project Productive4.0. In the TUT coordinated H2020 project COCOP (led by Prof. Matti Vilkko) plant-wide monitoring and control using a coordinating optimization concept is studied. In addition to manufacturing and production, I’m also involved in the Tekes funded project Urban Smart Energy, focusing on developing digital ecosystem solutions for energy consumption awareness and new means to control energy usage on a neighborhood and district level.

I’m looking forward being part of Pervasive Computing and meeting all the people here!


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Person of the Day: Post-doc Valentina Lenarduzzi

Valentina Lenarduzzi is a post-doctoral research assistant in the Laboratory of Pervasive Computing since February 2018.

Her primary research interest is on quantitative and qualitative research in Empirical Software Engineering, with a special focus on software product and process improvement. She has a lot of experiences in designing and conducting Systematic Literature Reviews. She is currently working on prioritizing refactoring tasks, so as to focus on the most “harmful” issues to reduce technical debt in SMEs. Moreover, she is also investigating code smells and architectural smells, so as to understand if they should be removed or not.

She obtained her Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2015 at University of Insubria (Como – Italy) working on data-driven effort estimation models for software processes. Moreover, during her Ph.D. She was visiting Researcher at the University of Kaiserslautern and Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE) for 8 months, working on Empirical Software Engineering in Embedded Software and Agile projects. From 2015 until 2017, she was Research Assistant at Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (Italy) working on Empirical Software Engineering.

Valentina also has industrial experience. She was one of the co-founders of Opensoftengineering, a spin-off company of the University of Insubria (Italy) in 2011 where she worked as software analyst and on technology transfer. In 2017, she co-found Trippydu, an innovative start-up in Bolzano-Bozen to foster the technology transfer activities in Bolzano.

Living on Dolomites Alps for few years, Valentina get addicted with mountain activities: snowshoeing, trekking, climbing and skiing.

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