Maria Holm, co-director of Mobile Life Centre.
Maria Holm, co-director of Mobile Life Centre. Foto: Anna-Karin Landin

 

The Mobile Life VINN Excellence Centre at Stockholm University was formed in 2007 with a ten-year grant from Vinnova.  The VINN Excellence Centre is a form of collaboration between the business community, the public sector, higher education institutions, research institutes, and other research organisations.  In addition to the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (DSV) at Stockholm University, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), the research institute SICS RISE, and several business partners backed the application. The number of companies involved in the collaboration has increased over the years and now includes Ericsson, Microsoft Research, IKEA, and ABB.

The research has focused on what are known as mobile services. The consumer perspective has also been important; what needs can we see as users, and what opportunities does the technology create? Around 30 people have been working at Mobile Life. The research has been interdisciplinary, involving researchers from computer and systems science, sociology, psychology, interaction design, game design, fashion studies, dance studies, etc. Pleasure, enjoyment and happiness have been key factors, in addition to putting people first.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things* is a good example of a development that researchers have seen coming, and that has had a major breakthrough. Ten years ago, it was a concept used almost exclusively in research circles; today, sensors and remotely controlled household appliances and gadgets are generally widespread.

The centre’s research can be divided into four blocks. The first field is video technology; see the article on Oskar Juhlin. Apps, and the opportunity to combine various services, is another large field.  A third field involves games of various kinds; many game ideas have been commercialised by researchers at the centre. The final field involves technology that is integrated with the human body. By attaching sensors directly onto the body, or on clothing or wristbands, it is possible to measure such things as heart rate and breathing. This information can then be used, for example, to diagnose how stressed you are and give advice on how to relax.

The research continues

As the ten-year period of funding was coming to an end, Mobile Life applied for continued funding from Vinnova. However, the application was rejected, as were the applications from most other excellence centres. The centre in Kista is being decommissioned, and on 31 March, a closing conference will present future research and collaborations. However, the research teams at Mobile Life still have funding and will be transferred to DSV, KTH, and the research institute SICS.

*The Internet of Things describes when items such as household appliances, clothes and buildings are provided with built-in sensors, computers and Internet connectivity in order to enable the items to be connected physically or via wireless networks and exchange data

More on the research at Mobile Life:

Barry creates smart environments.

Oskar Juhlin – Research applied at home and on the catwalk.