Abstracts of the new Open Call projects

Here are the descriptions of the projects selected in the latest open call. The list of all projects funded by us has also been updated.

Enactive avatar in feature film production: Real-time animation of close-ups based on face scanning

The concept of enactive cinema (Tikka 2005, 2008) piloted a cinematic system, in which the narrative flow was determined on the fly in response to physiological reactions of the spectator. The proposed project sets out to develop an enactively reactive avatar by means of photograph-based facial scanning, which captures in rapid processes facial expressions of the live character. An enactive avatar allows creating character performances that can be modified in real-time according to the physiological activity of the spectator. In order to achieve the goal, a collaborative project between Aalto University and University of Southern California will be initiated, bringing together the expertise of facial scanning and computerized animation. The project harnesses the understanding of facial communication and human mirroring systems. Bridging the gap between live and simulated acting, it enables studying the uncanny valley phenomenon in neuroimaging laboratory. Eventually, one can explore the enactive avatar applications in a range of media productions.

Keywords: enactive cinema, narrative, real-time, computer-generated character, photography-based face scanning, facial gestures, simulation, uncanny valley
Pia Tikka pia.tikka (ät) aalto.fi

Sounds of Helsinki: Enriching music experiences for everyone –Know your city, Know your music

Sounds of Helsinki is a platform for location-based music services. It enables new applications running on mobile phones and desktops. With Sounds of Helsinki (SOH) applications people can experience music related to different locations in various ways, for instance by creating, sharing and modifying playlists connected to meaningful places or offering users music coupled with various events such as concerts etc. Our goal is to support musical serendipity, incidental discovery, but also affect the city culture. SOH services offer citizens and visitors new kinds of urban audio experiences and strategies for appropriating public space. We believe that location-aware music services can provide a unique opportunity to support local musical niches, live and recorded music, and provide novel perspectives into local way of living, whether they are habitants or visitors of the City of Helsinki.

Pirkka Åman pirkka.aman (ät) aalto.fi

Atwink (a twin ink)

Atwink (a twin ink) kuvaa piirtämisen muutosta fyysisestä virtuaaliseksi. Atwink sovellus laajentaa arkipäiväisten paperipiirrosten mahdollisuuksia mobiiliteknologioiden avulla. Kotimaisina toimialoina paperi- ja mobiiliteknologiat ovat inspiroineet sovelluksen syntyä.

Petri Saarikko petri.saarikko (ät) hiit.fi

AaltoWindow – Connecting Aalto Campuses

The students and researchers of the three Aalto schools work and study at geographically separated locations, and therefore rarely interact with each other on a daily basis. To increase the feeling of social unity, this project opens a virtual window between the separate Aalto campuses: three multitouch tables, augmented with 3D infrared cameras and mobile phones, are installed in a public place at each Aalto school. These multimodal environments are then interconnected via real-time networking, engaging people to interact with each other in an entertaining and playful experience.

In future, the system is able to mediate user-created content (such as audiovisual works and media), serve as a target platform for collaborative research and student projects, and provide access to Aalto-related information. The pilot phase of this project conducts user and content provider surveys to understand the type of content each stakeholder expects to consume or produce with the AaltoWindow environment, and to gain knowledge of the preferred tools and formats in content mediation. An interactive proof-of-concept application assesses the technical feasibility of the concept.

More Info: Jari Kleimola, jari.klemola (ät) aalto.fi, Dept. of Signal Processing and Acoustics

Interdisciplinary Packaging Design Platform – PACK-AGE

Interdisciplinary Packaging Design Platform is a project about creating a new holistic packaging design course, PACK-AGE, by combining knowledge from all three Aalto disciplines: technology, business and design. The project is based on Future Packaging Design study (MF 2010), mapping the possibilities of packaging design and packaging related education in Aalto University.

The course pedagogy utilizes problem-based-learning (PBL) and industry cooperation. Students will work in multidisciplinary groups with future oriented design cases and challenges offered by the industry. Teachers from different Aalto-Schools participate in the planning phase and lecturing during the course. Also external collaboration with other institutes and organizations will be available. The best practices of different interdisciplinary Aalto -courses and programs are utilized together with packaging design and research networks in developing this course and its content. The course will be offered for students studying in packaging related areas in different Aalto schools. The course language will be English.

Media Factory will work as a platform for developing the course pilot. The course structure, content and educational responsibilities will be decided during the spring term 2011 and the course will be advertised for both students and collaborating companies during 2011. The pilot course will take place in spring 2012.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary, packaging design, education, Aalto University
Markus Joutsela markus.joutsela (ät) aalto.fi

From audience to users and beyond – conference in May and follow-up in December 2011

The organizer of conference is Aalto TAIK Department of Media in cooperation with Aalto SCI and Aalto ECON in co-operation with Tampere University and University of Helsinki. Seminar is funded by Aalto Media Factory. Conference is related to the European Cooperation in Science and Technology COST Action ISO906 Transforming audiences, transforming societies (http://www.cost-transforming-audiences.eu/) action. The aim of the action programme is to build European network of audience researchers. This should help to start EU-level research openings. The first local Finnish conference was organized by Tampere University 3.11.2010 (http://jourcost.wordpress.com/).

Maija Töyry maija.toyry (ät) aalto.fi

RUIS – Reality-based User Interface System – towards the development of an easy-to-use open-source platform for prototyping 3D user interaction

RUIS (reality-based user interface system) is a Java-based platform for developing novel user interfaces. RUIS makes it possible for hobbyists to easily create their own interactive applications with 3D user interfaces. An example video of such application can be seen at RUIS-project website (www.ruisystem.net).

Developed in Aalto University’s Department of Media Technology, RUIS-platform is open source and built with Processing (www.processing.org/about/), a development environment that is favored by many artists, designers, and architects among others. We have initiated this project because novel user interfaces (with gestures, 3D tracking, multi-touch surfaces, etc.) is an exciting field that still needs many innovations and standards to become more mature.

Our aim is to build a community of users around RUIS, and to do that, we plan to expand and optimize its current functionalities and add an easy interface for PlayStation Move controller and Kinect. The dissemination of the platform will happen on one hand by announcing its releases inside the Processing user community, and on the other by adopting it for teaching and developing projects among different departments of Aalto University.

The current RUIS is already used and agreed to be used in several contexts, including a Virtual Reality (VR) course, a 3D User Interface contest application, a digital opera, and a dancing project.
Keywords: 3D user interface, gestural interaction, open-source platform
Contact information:
Roberto Pugliese: http://media.tkk.fi/en/contact-info/person.php?id=477
email: roberto.pugliese (ät) tkk.fi
Tuukka Takala: http://media.tkk.fi/en/contact-info/person.php?id=284
email: Tuukka.Takala (ät) tml.hut.fi
Contact details of the administrative staff:
Katja Hakala, Project coordinator, email: katja.hakala (ät) tkk.fi, +358 9 470 25259,

Aalto Game Audio Review – AGAR

As a thematic area of research and education, game sound is little explored. Yet, relevant research within Aalto University exists under different thematic topics such as Sonic Interaction Design, Virtual Acoustics, and Music Technology and Game Research. Similarly, game sound has been a recurring topic within the Sound in New Media and Game Production Master programs (Department of Media, Aalto TAIK) as well as Sonic Interaction Design (Signal Processing and Acoustics, Aalto ELEC).

AGAR will strengthen and co-ordinate Game Audio activities in Aalto University by organizing a Game Audio Symposium in May 2011. The event is a joint collaboration between key partners within Aalto University, the Finnish Game Audio Network (Finn-GAN), IGDA Finland, and industry practitioners. The event is funded by Media Factory and supported by Remedy Entertainment Ltd.

Antti Ikonen

New Media for Crisis Management Initiative

New Media for Crisis Management Initiative (NM4CMI) is developing multi-disciplinary research framework studying and designing new media concepts for conflict resolution The Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a Finnish independent non-profit organization, works to resolve conflict and to build sustainable peace. CMI is hence now seeking to utilize new media and new media tools to support their work.

In doing so, CMI is teaming up with Aalto Media Factory through an innovative study project where, over the course of the spring term 2011, postgraduate students and researchers will seek in a study project new media solutions with, and for, CMI. In parallel with the study project the NM4CMI project will define a research framework for further research in the field.

The solutions explored can be, for instance, new media tools supporting multi-stakeholder dialogue in conflict environments, systems and processes utilizing audio-visual communications, technics of data-visualization or social media applications in conflicts. Building precisely on the existing research in the field of computer-mediated dialogue and discourse, the NM4CMI –project defines a research plan and a project proposal with national and international partners for further research collaboration.

Study project’s blog: http://mlab.taik.fi/thirdsector/
Teemu Leinonen

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