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July 20, 2010

A glimpse into the future with NRC

Jyri-HuopaniemiTAMPERE, Finland – You guys are always interested in what Nokia will be doing in the future. What technologies are likely to emerge? What’s in the pipeline? We thought it was high-time we found out. We caught-up with Jyri Huopaniemi, Director, NRC Tampere, for some behind-the-scenes information. Find out what Nokia’s Finnish Research Center is working on now, the challenges for research and a look at what could be in store for us in the future.

NC: What are the biggest challenges that face research? Is there such a thing as a start and end point?
JH: In my opinion, the challenges of research are exactly at the start and at the end. Having the opportunity and courage to explore new research domains, which may be very risky but could produce new crucial innovations, translating that into tangible scientific problems that are solved, and ultimately transferring the results into new products. In our industry, the pace of innovation is very fast, which makes our research field so compelling.

NC: Is there a definite line of research that you follow in Tampere? Do you have a specialist area of research?
JH: Our research focus is primarily on new user interfaces – mixed reality, multimodality, local interaction, cognitive user interfaces [Apparently, ‘multimodality’ is different ways of user unput and here’s a video explaining local interaction ]- as well as new contextual experiences – social media, rich and immersive communication.

NC: How much research is based on user needs and feedback?
JH: More and more of our research is based on end-user needs. That’s both in the beginning when identifying new concepts, as well as in trial phase where user feedback is iteratively incorporated into the design process.

NC: Will the emergence of 4G impact mobile technology? How will it change the landscape?
JH: Cognitive radio is one of the core research topics of Nokia Research. Faster data transmission in Long-Term Evolution (LTE) will enable new mobile use cases and increase the quality of current services, but we are already taking steps to the future in cognitive radio. We aim to empower a new realm of devices and services through optimised connectivity, where devices use the available spectrum in a dynamic and flexible fashion. Here’s a recent video looking at the work we’ve been doing with cognitive radio.

NC: How could location-based services provide more value for users?
JH: Mobile applications and services that utilise the user context (location, social situation etc.) cleverly will be winners. This is a rich area for innovation, and we’ve only seen first generation of such applications hit the market.

NC:Augmented reality – will it ever be popular? How many apps/services is NRC working on with AR in mind?
JH: Merging of the physical and digital is a line of research that we follow and contribute to from many research teams. Rather than looking at a number of applications, it’s about what makes sense for the consumer – how would one use augmented reality (or mixed reality as we call it) in different usage environments. For example, could we use multimodality when bringing digital information into the current context? Augmented reality can be much more than looking through the display at augmented objects.

NC: What do you predict will be the big players in mobile technology over the next five years?
JH: The winners will combine two things. First, they will pursue deep innovation in new user experiences, broadening the role of the mobile device of today (for example, in form factors, user interfaces and usage models). Second, those that manage to deliver beautiful state-of-the-art devices and solutions at scale, serving the needs of billions of mobile customers.