SENSEG – revolutionary haptic interaction


Using expertise in touch-based perception, the Finnish firm Senseg has developed a tactile technology called ‘e-sense’ that uses “tixels”, which can be applied in ultra-thin coatings on many kinds of devices to give user interactions a tangible dimension.

These tixels can transmit varying electronic fields which can be used to simulate a variety of textures be it hard or soft, rough or smooth, sticky or slippery for a number of use cases ranging from the visceral to highly functional.

It was in this firm that I worked interning as interaction designer for two and a half months. Designing and crafting the multimodal dimensions were a key aspect of my interaction design work there. There was a steep yet incredibly enriching learning curve that comes with new paradigms of interactive interfaces.

Key roles fulfilled by me:

  • Graphic Design
  • Game Development
  • Interaction Design
  • R & D work
  • API development
  • Concept design and use cases
  • Usability and User Testing
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“Jack-in-the-Box-Factory” is a classic point & click style adventure game by Jussi and Toni (+ music by Heikki). It was made in two-month timeline while learning and experimenting with a game engine software (AGS) we hadn’t used ever before.

Plot: Player controls character Jack, who’s been working in a box factory for years doing same repetitive task every day, never questionizing what is it all about, until now when machine goes broken and he’s kind of forced to go deeper into the factory.

At the moment game is in demo phase, meaning it only has some starting elements of the story but player can still get a clue of what’s going on.

Playable demo (Windows): Download

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Swing Thing: playful interaction

Matti Niinimäki and Forrest Oliphant created this installation from Michihito Mizutani’s “poetic interaction” prompt at Winter 2010 Demo Day.

swing thing poster

Two people enter a darkened room with two swings. Classical music plays softly, and a cryptic symbol is projected between the curtains. They sit on the swings, and the music get louder. They begin to swing together, and the symbols start to move. When their swinging gets out of sync, the music’s pitch bends uncomfortably. If they shift their weight correctly while swinging, the symbol assembles itself and the mystery is solved!

Source (Arduino, Pure Data, and Quartz Composer). One technical discovery that was especially useful was figuring out how to route all system audio through Pure Data.

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Demo Day photos

Photos from Demo Day, 2011 December 16.

ik bd1 kids1 tb kids2 ai mn1 mn2 mn_kt_cg mn5 mn3 mm_wondering_mn mm ppl soundwonderboys kids3 kids5 mj_kl_ls ls_kl_mj ninja_t kids4 kids6 ninja_t3 ninja_t2 kids8 ninja_t4 ppl4 tb_ak ai_js_ stereogrr blueboy bd2 screen me ppl3 kids9 jj kids7 ovi ppl2 pd1 pd2 stage2 stage1 stage_sound stage_sound2 stage3mk

Photos by Anna Arsniva


Photos by Till Bovermann

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Crafty time-lapse video

For my AV studio project, I collaborated with textile artist Aino Riiho to create a music video documentary of the collaborative creation of a blanket at the Textile Craft Teachers Union 100-year anniversary meeting. In the planning of the shoot we knew that we would have some music by Aino’s classmate Tatu Metsätähti, which was a work in progress. He planned to incorporate sounds related to textile craft production, such as scissors, boxes of needles as percussive shakers, and sewing machines. Aino wanted the video to be a time-lapse montage of the creation of the blanket.

During the day of the meeting union members crocheted and embroidered 10cm squares while listening to talks and socializing with one another. As they completed squares, they pinned them to a board as a rough draft of the finished blanket. I could have filmed the board for the entire day, but I had an idea for a smoother time-lapse construction effect. Spoiler alert, read on for the simple production secret…

Continue reading

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Mmmusic Table

Mmmusic Table by Liisa Tervinen

Mmmusic Table is an installation I made for my final exhibition at the Artist in Residency at the Vorwerk e.V. in Hamburg in Nov 2010.

The residencies last usually 3 months and they are available for 3 persons at a time. You get your own apartment and use of the studios and the gallery. While I was there, I got to know another artist Lianne Hall, a singer-songwriter from UK. Together we worked on her music video (see below), she was writing new songs in the studio and I was learning Pure Data, LilyPad Arduino, trying to sell my Christmas animation to TV channels and was doing new animation tests.

At the end of 3 months, we had an exhibition in the houses Gallery where I presented theMmmusic table, which plays Lianne Hall’s songs. I used conductive yarn, LilyPad light sensors and LilyPad main board together with PureData. The lyrics of each song were handwritten on a paper that was attached to a glass table. The circuit was stitched with the conductive yarn on the paper. Visitors were able to listen to a song from an old phone’s receiver that was on the table, by moving their hand on each song.

Mmmusic Table by Liisa TervinenMmmusic Table by Liisa Tervinen

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Radiation Always

A sonification of radiation data from Japan, March 2011. Additional sonification of Geiger counter picking up background radiation.

Project made during the 3 week course ‘Sound Design and Interactive Music’ given by Koray Tahiroglu. Using Python to parse the data, Pure Data to make the sound and Processing for the visuals.

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Spring is here

After a long winter, spring has landed in Helsinki full-force. I changed the header image to show the sunny Hämeentie view outside of TaiK. The lab is humming with activity as we get ready for our Spring Demo day on May 26th.

Spring hits Hämeentie

Spring outside of TaiK, photo taken with the Photosynth app

The Demo Day schedule will be on once it is finalized. There will be more blog posts here as this becomes the online version of Demo Day.


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Designing Fabric Interactions

Designing Fabric Interactions (DeFInt) is an ongoing project and also the subject of my masters thesis in New Media at Media Lab Helsinki.

DeFint is an exploration of fabric as an interface medium for electronics. The focus is to specifically use the familiar “language” of fabrics to create novel experiences and interactions in our everyday scenarios.

Design has not only been inspired by needs and purposes but also by experimenting with new materials and technologies. Recently, the development of conductive fabric materials has made possible to develop various kinds of interactive garments and furniture.

Fabrics are an integral part of our everyday lives and have their roots deep in our culture and history.However it becomes quite unfamiliar when we try to juxtapose fabric with electronics. Both fabrics and electronics as materials have very definitive characteristics behaviourally, and also come with specific tools and context. Sewing machines, needles, knitting machines, soldering irons, pliers etc. have specific functions in their traditional environments. Electronics require tight connections, good contact, insulation for a reliable circuit. Fabrics inherently possess qualities that are light, fluid, easily influenced by the shape and nature of objects around them. Bringing together fabric and electronics to create interfaces that are approachable is thus an interesting challenge.

The project takes a hands-on approach, constantly sketching ideas and prototyping to test them. Fabric being the main focus, the project specifically draws inspiration from the inherent fabric qualities and actions associated with fabrics as well as reinterprets the traditional techniques and construction tools. The thesis aims to zoom into the idea of interactions and study the fabric medium through the design of individual “triggers” or switches that use fabric qualities to operate.

To read more about the project and to follow ongoing work please visit the Defint process blog at


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Slithering: trading dimensions in video

(Welcome to the Media Lab Helsinki students blog. Here we will show you some of the things that we are making.)

Computational photography is a wide concept with many possible interpretations and directions. I couldn’t choose one project for the course, so I made two, and showed them with my classmates at Pixelache in Augusta Gallery. One project was an extension of some earlier computational photography experiments with Flash+webcam, called PaintCam. The other was a collaboration with Timo Wright called Slithering.

We shot two dance scenes, one with Anna Mustonen and the other with Lucía Merlo, Charlotte Lovera, Elise Giordano and myself. Thanks to Lume studio for helping us set up the lights.

We shot HD video with the Canon 5D Mark III. We thought that it would be important for the dancers to have a preview image to see how different movements would affect the final image, so I made a Processing sketch that would approximate the aspect ratio of the 5D’s output.

Now... how to turn this into a self-texturewrapped 3d model?

We used Kinect for the preview, with the idea that the depth data might interesting to use somehow in the final. The slitscan video (three dimensions shuffled) ended up interesting enough that I left the depth data for future experiments. What could four shuffled dimensions look like?

This is the description that Timo came up with for our piece when we were thinking that the final product of our piece would be still images:

Slithering is a alternative dance documentation where the dancer dances and reacts with the Slithering program. The program scans from a camera a one pixel wide segment and orders these segments to become one long picture in time. In this project the dancer has to find a completely new kind of movement, if she wants to control the visual end result. It also changes the documentation of dance in time and space to now happen only in time. What is dance minus space?

Slithering single still 2

Slithering single still 3

Slithering group still 3

Slithering group still 4

To make the first still images, I wrote a Photoshop script that would take one column of pixels from each frame of video. It took ages. I noticed that changing the column variable ended up with a very different image. What would they look like animated? I managed to write my first C++ application, with the help of Cinder, to shuffle the billions of pixels from one video to an output video. The source for Redimensionator is available freely, without warranty. Here are some experiments with the software, Redimensionating some videos found on YouTube:

Redimensionator wasn’t written until after the dances were filmed. We had the still-image preview while dancing, but had no idea what it would look like in Redimensionated video form. In the future, it would be fun to choreograph a dance piece or music video with the output in mind. Putting some planning into costumes, props, and choreography could make for very interesting output.

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