The Center for Ubiquitous Computing is located at the University of Oulu’s Linnanmaa Campus, and housed in a modern purpose-built facility. With an annual budget of €2.6 million and world-class infrastructure, the center’s mission is to conduct research on the next generation of interactive technologies. The scope of the research cuts across Ubiquitous Computing and Human-Computer Interaction, with a distinct focus on application-driven research. Our work spans the development of techniques for modelling human behaviour, augmenting physical spaces, and systems engineering to enable ubiquitous applications and services.
World-class research on Interactive Technologies
Our Center is the largest cluster of Ubiquitous Computing and Human-Computer Interaction researchers in Finland, and one of the largest in Europe. We regularly publish in the best ACM and IEEE venues, including top conferences and journals. Our research is primarily funded through external competitive grants and industry. Members of the Center have received prestigious individual awards, including a fellowship of the Academy of Finland Distinguished Professor programme, a Marie Curie Career Integration grant, multiple Academy of Finland postdoctoral grants, and best-paper awards. In late 2015 our Center was Awarded one of the few prestigious long-term grants by Finland’s Strategic Research Council, aimed to finding solutions to the major challenges facing society.
State-of-the-art research infrastructure
The Center for Ubiquitous Computing maintains a rich infrastructure to advance its research activities:
Our Center maintains a city-wide wireless city network realized with the IEEE 802.11 WLAN technology. The network offers open (no authentication or registration) and free (no payment) wireless Internet connection within its coverage area to devices equipped with a IEEE 802.11 radio. The network is provided by the panOULU consortium comprising of nine municipalities, four public organizations and four ISPs. The network has ca 1300 WLAN access points in Oulu and eight nearby towns. More information about the WLAN network can be found at http://www.panoulu.net.
In addition, we maintain a network of ~60 Bluetooth (BT) access points around the City of Oulu. The BT access points establish WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Network) hotspots around them. They can be employed to provide wireless services that can be used completely free of charge with a mobile device and a Bluetooth connection. For example, a restaurant can offer its menu, a bus stop its timetable, a pedestrian street shop and tourist information and shopping centre discount coupons.
These two networks are an important research infrastructure. They have been used to study longitudinal study human mobility, develop personalised networked services, investigate information seeking behaviour, and model crowd behaviour.
Our Center has built and maintained a network of indoor & outdoor public interactive displays known as the UBI-Hotspots. This is the world’s largest research-driven network of public interactive displays integrated in real-world spaces such as public squares and central outdoor/indoor locations. This infrastructure has enabled a wide range of research activities, ranging from the development of novel urban computing services, to studying information seeking behaviour and deploying games & competitions.
Our Center maintains the AWARE smartphone platform, which is globally used by thousands of researchers. The platform enables scientists to capture, analyse, and share smartphone sensor data, thus effectively turning smartphones into valuable scientific instruments. The platform is scalable with plugins installable directly on smartphones in an ad-hoc fashion. AWARE can be used as a standalone mobile logging tool, or can enable large-scale smartphone studies. This platform is funded by an €850,000 grant from the Academy of Finland. Read more about AWARE or visit the dedicated website.
Virtual 3D Oulu is a collaborative 3D virtual model of downtown Oulu realized atop the realXtend open source platform for the 3D Internet. The model was constructed using large-scale laser scanning of Oulu’s downtown area, augmented by digital photographs of building facades. The platform serves as a collaborative infrastructure where information from our physical sensors (such as WiFi users, bus positioning, sensing data from citizens’ smartphones) is visualised to enable collaborative viewing and interaction. This work begun in 2014 and is funded by numerous grants from the Academy of Finland, City of Oulu, and by strategic funding from the University of Oulu.
Much of our research deals with large amounts of streaming & longitudinal data. For instance, we have built platforms that analyse Twitter feeds in realtime, analysed billions of urban mobility data points from our city-scale WiFi and Bluetooth network, powered popular smartphone apps, and modelled large-scale financial transactions. More recently we have begun analysis of the complete Reddit dataset. Our research is supported by a high-performance computing cluster that also provides a virtual server farm, as well as high-performance clusters on Amazon EC2 and Redshift.
Our state-of-the-art €900,000 FabLab spans 280m2 and is the largest in Finland and amongst the largest in Europe. It is packed with tools that can bring any idea to life. This facility provides 3D printing, laser cutting, metal cutting and high-resolution NC milling, wood and vinyl craftsmanship, as well as a built-in electronics and gadgets studio. The facility is used to advance our research as well as enrich our educational activities by enabling students to gain first-hand experience in designing and building innovative objects that bring together unique shapes and custom-built sensing capabilities.
Our Center contributes to the following degree programmes:
- BSc (Tech) Computer Science and Engineering (Applied Computing orientation) 180 ECTS.
- MSc (Tech) Computer Science and Engineering (Applied Computing orientation) 120 ECTS.
- International MSc (Tech) Computer Science and Engineering (Ubiquitous Computing orientation) 120 ECTS.
In addition, the Centre provides doctoral training for DrTech and PhD candidates, and more than 10 taught courses. Modern classrooms and auditoriums are used for lectures, while PC laboratory facilities (42 PCs, 41 Sunray 1G thin clients) are available to undergraduate and postgraduate students. In addition, students have access to the university’s central library facilities. Finally, we organise the annual UBI-Summer-School since 2010, which brings together for a week 60-80 students from across the globe, along with top instructors in Ubiquitous Computing.
- Annual Budget: ~ €2.6 million (70% externally competed)
- Personell: 45 FTE
- Office space 400m2 (employees typically housed in 1 or 2-person offices)
- Meeting spaces 50m2
- FabLab 280m2
- Teaching laboratories with 42 PCs and 41 Sunray 1G thin clients.
- Research output
- Publications: 36 (2012), 81 (2013), 57 (2014), 57 (2015).
- Citations (Google Scholar): 19542 (total), 2261 (2012), 2890 (2013), 3295 (2014), 3426 (2015).