There’s some smarts in Google, recently purchased…

In 2010 the top google image hits for “intelligent personal companion” were dogs. In 2014 the robots have taken over!

My last research topic before leaving Nokia was related to intelligent content companions – smart software to get metadata, search, relevance, recommendation, timing attention, and general enjoyment of your own and other’s content just right. Charged with setting the research topic agenda, university collaborations, external funding, and alignment to corporate strategy all in place, I set to the adventure with (initially) 5 research teams in tow. We narrowed this down to multimedia content, and then photos (it was a safe bet for the organisation – albeit the opposite of my instincts to make impact by novelty for innovation value and more defendable patents). And we ended up narrowing this down to sharing with family and friends to make the whole thing more explainable and easier to justify specific university collaborations – which again made much sense inside the distorted reality field of Nokia Research Center in 2011 but removed the opportunity to do something genuinely new and interesting. Information retrieval for sentiment, textual and user analysis went out of the window while we refined the plan (and became ever safer for keeping this research project alive in a research organisation chopping off heads all over the place). As did sophisticated plans for searching out best “mastery” templates and guidance to ensure both that the content you captured started brilliant and was tweaked better, and that you got to search and refine the distributed “quality evaluation” (recommender) models as you interacted with templates, your content and content from close and distant people. In fairness, brutalising the exciting stuff out of the research project goals like this did make the difficult job of decoupling myself from Nokia Research somewhat easier when I volunteered to jump ship.

directrBut now Google have taken on an element of this in a very smart way that I wish Nokia would have been open to. The rather cool Directr web service throws templates at you to make great very short videos for a wide ranges of topics very fast and easy (and cheap and repeatable and…). It’s very much the kind of template initiated mastery we initially hoped to get to for all user content (and then just photos). Only Google have had the good vision to recognise this and they’ve bought them. It may just be an opportunity to give youtube more serious or better quality content, but more likely it’s part of Google’s spate of content company related purchases and a bigger strategy. Either way, Google scale for such a smart approach to making personal content better from the start is going to be a big favour to most digital natives out there.

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A jog down research memory lane

It’s always a risk hunting down an old article or two that you influenced or wrote. This time it cost me 3 hours, and resulted in this nearly comprehensive list of articles I’ve written (since 2000) or influenced or was collaborating with the authors separately (since 2010) in a few areas…

Not that this makes a fun and concise blog post, but it is a great recap that punctuates this academic work before I rocket off in a new direction.

Family and small group practices

An examination of how households share and coordinate the completion of errands

ACM Conference of Computer Supported Cooperative Work, ACM, Seattle, Washington, USA (In Press)

Mobile Family Interaction: How to use mobile technology to bring trust, safety and wellbeing into families

MobileHCI, Stockholm, Sweden (2011)

Hello, is grandma there? let’s read! StoryVisit: family video chat and connected e-books

Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems – CHI ’11, ACM Press, Vancouver, BC, Canada (2011)

Family roles, activities and values as assets for persuasive games design **

Unpublished (2010)

Practices surrounding children’s photos in homes

CHI ’12 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. p2117-2122. (2012)

Profiling and Relevancy

A Habit Mining Approach for Discovering Similar Mobile Users

World Wide Web (WWW 2012) (2012)

Comparison of Classifiers in Audio and Acceleration based Context Classification in Mobile Phones

EUSIPCO-2011, Eurosip, Barcelona, Spain (2011)

Gender and computing conference papers

Communications of the ACM, Volume 54, Issue 8, p.72-80 (2011)

Quantitative Study of Individual Emotional States in Social Networks

IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing (2011)

Role-Based Contextual Recommendation

1st International Workshop on Sensing, Networking, and Computing with Smartphones, co-located with IEEE CPSCom 2011 , Dalian, China. (2011)

Who’s who with Big-Five: Analyzing and Classifying Personality

ISWC 2011, the fifteenth annual International Symposium on Wearable Computers, IEEE, San Francisco (2011)

Introducing Game and Playful Experiences to other Application Domains through Personality and Motivation Models **

IEEE GIC, Hong Kong, China (2010)

Distributed Devices and Software, and Networks

An open platform for distributed, scalable and adaptive interactive applications for CE devices

2011 IEEE Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC)2011 IEEE Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC), IEEE, Las Vegas, NV, USA (2011)

Experiences Building a Multi-Display Mobile Application for Exploring Mirror Worlds

5th International Conference and Exhibition on Next Generation Mobile Applications, Services, and Technologies (NGMAST’11), IEEE, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom (2011)

“Can we work this out?”: An evaluation of remote collaborative interaction in a mobile shared environment

MobileHCI, ACM Press, Stockholm, Sweden (2011)

A combined mixed reality and networked home approach to improving user interaction with consumer electronics *

IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics, Volume 57, Issue 1, p.139 – 144 (2011)

Infinity Point: Multi-Device Pointing Systems Evolution And Review **

IEEE ISCE 2010 (2010)

From Instant Messaging to Cloud Computing, an XMPP review *

IEEE ISCE 2010 (2010)

Home DNS: Experiences with Seamless Remote Access to Home Services *

World of Wireless, Mobile and Multimedia Networks (WoWMoM) (2007)

Towards a Platform Independent Architecture for Multi-access Mobiles *

EUNICE 2004, Tampere, Finland. 16 June 2004., (2004)

Advances in mass media delivery to mobiles *

Advance, Nokia Internal Research Magazine (2004)

Multicast Content Delivery for Mobiles *

Wiley, Chapter 10 of Content Networking in the Mobile Internet (2004)

Hybrid network : stepping beyond 3G *

Advance, Nokia Internal Research Magazine (2000)

Hybrid networks : a step beyond 3G *

3rd Int’,l. Symp. Wireless Pers. Multimedia Commun., pp.109 -114 2000 (2000)

Content and photo sharing

Group simulation: Introducing participatory technique for evaluating photo sharing interfaces with early prototypes

International Conference on Human Factors in Computing & Informatics (2013)

Producing while Consuming: Social Interaction around Photos shared within Private Group

CHI EA ’12 – Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference extended abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM Press, Austin, Texas, USA (2012)

Automated Content Sharing in Extended Homes through Mobile Devices – A quality solution for group communication *

BCS 15th Software Quality Management Conference, Tampere, Finland, August 2007 (abstractrelated thesis, related paper)

Geo-locked photo sharing on mobile devices

CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. p1407-1412. (2013)

Photo sharing in small groups – identifying design drivers for desired user experiences

Academic MindTrek ’12: International Conference on Media of the Future (2012)

Personal Content in Online Sports Communities: Motivations to Capture and Share Personal Exercise Data

International Journal of Social and Humanistic Computing (2013)

Content Creation and Management

Real-time generation of personalized home video summaries on mobile devices

Neurocomputing , Volume 120, p.10 (2013)

Evaluating MoodPic – A Concept for Collaborative Mood Music Playlist Creation

17th International Conference: Information Visualisation (2013)

A Lightweight Platform for Web Mashups in Immersive Mirror Worlds

IEEE Pervasive Computing, Volume 12, Issue 1, p.34 – 41 (2013)

Chasers of the Lost Data: Turning content management systems into gaming platforms *

2010 2nd International IEEE Consumer Electronics Society’s Games Innovations Conference (ICE-GIC 2010)2010 2nd International IEEE Consumer Electronics Society’s Games Innovations Conference, IEEE, Hong Kong (2010)

Attaching the Value of Sensorial Experience to Pervasive Multimedia Applications *

IEEE CCNC 2010 (2010)

Improving the Value of Archived Personal Content with Aesthetic and Reflexive Qualities *

IEEE CCNC 2010 (2010)

User Created Content in the Extended Home *

15th IST Mobile & Wireless Communication Summit, p.Proceedings (2006)

A Resource-efficient Mobile Blogging System *

6th International Workshop on Applications and Services in Wireless Networks, Berlin, Germany, May 29-31, 2006, p.Proceedings , pages 92-97 (2006)

Applications and Platforms

Fusing mixed reality and networked home techniques to improve user control of consumer electronics *

2011 IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE)2011 IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE), IEEE, Las Vegas, NV, USA (2011)

Towards off-the-shelf computer vision for user interaction in consumer homes **

2011 IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE)2011 IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE), IEEE, Las Vegas, NV, USA (2011)

The Digital DJ : a case-study of value-added services over hybrid networks *

Advance, Nokia Internal Research Magazine (2002)

User Experience and Evaluation

Cultural Differences in Smartphone User Experience Evaluation *

ACM MUM 2010, Limassol, Cyprus (2010)

Group simulation: Introducing participatory technique for evaluating photo sharing interfaces with early prototypes

CHI ’13. (2013)


Research Choices: Adjusting the mode of research for commercial impact (talk) *

IEEE CE Games Innovation Conference (2007)

* where I’m an author/co-author

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Jeppe: Flash from my past


Way back in 2006-2007 I was leading the Media Window project (HD video call and immersive telepresence for mobiles, using a dedicated FPGA “USB hardware accessory”, and the new phenomenon of HD TV, with the dream that HD projection and full wall HD TV would become commonplace within 3-10 years).

That was cool and taught me very important lessons about prioritising design and engineering for user centered design (UCD), and intuitively what “affect” and “enchantment” meant even before I picked up the User Experience (UX) literature trail. (Personally, this added HCI and UCD arrows to my telecoms and protocols quiver, with smart spaces and software management along the way). However, a very real problem was that our 2-nation user studies and UCD were too realistic a sample of normal people, and so none of the Dutch and almost none of the Finnish participants had been down the purchase journey for HD TV of any size.

So we pivoted the user study (while the tech research plowed on with a bunch of firsts for mobile HD video call and USB UVC), and co-created several concepts for remote presence and video telepresence including ‘the Pet’ which started life gerbil-like and became hedgehog-like (we were visualising kids in gardens carrying around an actuated video call device). Then we spun this out and merged into another project (home phone), engaged Nokia Design, renamed the Pet “Jeppe”, and I adopted consultant-and-shepherd mode, giving over the mechanical and application design lead to my team (subsequently completely when I entered corporate and research strategy in 2008).

Just today I hunted down the web footprint of Jeppe to compare with some more recent DIY two-wheeled robots and it brought the whole saga back to life.

Here’s more on Jeppe:

And even theRegister news article:

And the acting debuts of some of my old colleagues (keep the day jobs guys:)

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Join in our robot appearance study!01_justImages

We want you to join in our study on the appearance of robots that might assist us in the future! Just use this link:

It should take around 15-20 minutes. This is part of our work at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) to answer questions we have about people’s willingness to use robots as assistants at home or in the workplace, and how a robot’s appearance can change expectations.

Share and distribute our invite as widely as you like.

If you’re more at home with Suomalainen or Français, use one of these links:

For questions in all 3 languages you can drop us an email at – or just message me directly through wordpress.

Thank you for being amazing and helping us!

Rod, Riikka and Marion
TAMK Social Robotics

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ResearchGate for mining social media

ImageEver since promising results in our pilot study Introducing game and playful experiences to other application domains through personality and motivation models, mining social media (facebook in particular) has been on my agenda. I haven’t gotten round to it yet, but some of the recent threads on the excellent ResearchGate hint that this field might be maturing enough to be worth a fresh look. Let’s see…

Are there any proven “feature extraction” techniques and open software for summarising facebook and other social media personas?

What tools would you recommend for statistically assessing and visualizing online social networks?

Social Networks data mining

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Let Many Bots Bloom!

Having used bipedal, research and industrial robots, we realised that a big part of the barrier to entry to consumer and mass market healthcare was due to the cost and reliability of many actuators (motors, degrees of freedom etc.) and high quality actuators in those bots. So some time ago, over a coffee far far away, we got the idea that if only we could get extremely expressive and functional robots without so many actuators, we might be onto something. Naturally there’s an obvious area where this has been done before and continues to be done: in toys. But here we were interested in some high level design concepts where the primary goal is expression rather than play.

So we worked with students to create DASR: Deep Avatars Simple Robots. What you seen in the video are the portion of the many sketchbook concepts that were built in the Unity3D engine. With simple actuations, movement to music and kinect input, this was a pretty damn versatile proof of concept. This is mostly for inspiration and fun. We’re not planning to build these in plastic and metal (or blood and chrome), not yet anyway!

And for completeness, here’s the brief that kicked that project off…

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EmoSPARK | First A.I. Console

EmoSPARK | First A.I. Console

An interesting emotion capture approach. And soon to be off-the-shelf too.

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