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Professor Sigg makes sense of sensor data in Pervasive and mobile environments

Professor Sigg motivates his students by letting them solve actual problems.
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Stephan Sigg was appointed Assistant Professor at the School of Electrical Engineering for a five-year period starting 1.10.2015. His expertise field covers networking technology, context-based security and activity recognition for pervasive computing.

"Radio signals as well as mobile devices with sensors are all around us. We make use of both in order to control the environment based on people’s activities", professor Sigg describes his research field.

Sensors collect huge amounts of data. The challenge is how to extract the relevant information out of the big data and noise. In pervasive computing filtering algorithms and machine-learning can be used for this.

"Certain signal patterns can be associated with specific activities of people wearing the device or in proximity."

A person entering the room, walking around or making abrupt movements causes fluctuations in the signals of for example a WiFi device. This can be utilized to predict activity classes for the person. Further sensing modalities to collect the data can be mobile devices, a smart phone, smart watch or also glasses.

Students solve their own data

The research on radio-based activity recognition can assist for example older people in their living at home. Data of the resident’s movements are captured and for instance the lights can be switched on while a person enters the room. In hospitals the surgeon’s movements could control certain devices to avoid physical contacts in a sterile environment.

Professor Sigg motivates his students by letting them solve actual problems. The theory is put into practice in project-activities with 2-4 students in a group. The group defines its own targets. The students collect the data, apply it into appropriate algorithms and extract meaning for the data using machine-learning.

"By doing this they get to see how to apply the different computing methods. It is a bit harder compared to reading things from a book, but it is also rewarding."

Cross-country skiing and sauna

Before Aalto University professor Sigg was working in Georg-August-University Göttingen in his home country Germany. He has also been working for 2.5 years at National Institute of Informatics (NII) in Japan.

The first Christmas in Finland and the plenty of snow in January were very memorable for professor Sigg. He was especially impressed by the Aalto Christmas party with all the singing together. Professor Sigg knows already how to skate and ski after which he enjoys the sauna at home in Espoo.

"I also like running. I would like to run to the workplace, too, once I find a good way to not carry my computer with me."

 

Photo: Mikko Raskinen

 

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