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Smartphones pose new challenges for combining sensor data

Professor Simo Särkkä utilises sensor technology developed in the telecom industry in medical applications.
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Simo Särkkä, DSc (Tech), was appointed Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Automation on 1 June 2015. His professorship is in the field of Electrical Engineering.

Särkkä develops computational methods for deriving information from a single or multiple sensors. One important area of application for these methods is medical technology that seeks to measure the health status of humans and the functioning of the body. Biosensors of different kinds are employed to this end to measure the activity of the heart, brain and lungs, among other things.

‘The increasing popularity of smartphones poses new challenges for sensor informatics. The sensors and computational power of smartphones also enable many other applications in, for example, health care, the gaming industry and virtual reality systems,’ says Särkkä.

Close cooperation with companies

Särkkä has previously worked as Academy Research Fellow at the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering. He has a solid background in applied physics and electrical engineering and years of experience from the business world in the field of positioning technology in companies such as Nokia.

‘Our team has developed methods for smartphone-based indoor positioning, for example. The problem of simultaneous localisation and mapping in robotics also calls for advanced sensor informatics methods,’ Särkkä points out.

According Särkkä, the methods used in positioning and health technology are the same. He also continues to work in the telecom industry with a spin-off company that develops positioning technology.

‘My aim is to provide both students and the research community with new perspectives on how sensor technology of other fields can be applied in heath technology as well,’ says Särkkä.

According to Särkkä, there still remains work to be done in his field with automatic diagnosis and the application of brain signals.

‘I have a vision of a brain interface of sorts that measures the state of health in real-time. With the ageing of population, there would be demand for such technology. My research team has a lot of cooperation with the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa,’ he adds.

And how do you relax when not working?

‘With music and my own rock band. I have played in a number of bands over the years, mostly electric guitar or bass.’

Photo: Lasse Lecklin

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