Last week the annual summer school of the CASE research centre at the Faculty of Computer Science took place. 22 students from all over Europe got the chance to learn about “Practical Experimentation in Software Engineering” from internationally renowned experts. One of these experts was Mikko Terho, Vice-President and Fellow at Nokia Mobile Phones.
Mikko Terho, how did this come about that you came here?
Terho: I have cooperated now for two years with Dean Giancarlo Succi; I met him originally at a planning meeting for an EU research project. He told me about the all software work that they are doing here at the CASE research centre
. I then came here for the first time two years ago as visiting lecture and I’ve come to the Summer School twice now. For me it’s a good time because in Finland the work is slowing down, the weather here is nice…so it’s a good opportunity to combine work and a little bit of Italian food.
And you taught the students how to program for mobile phones?
Terho: Yes, Nokia has changed strategy recently – we initiated a cooperation with Microsoft. That’s why with the students we programmed for the Windows Phone and the Internet Explorer (IE). This summer the students worked on a program for the Nokia Lumia phones.
What kind of programs did you do?
Terho: We did an application that reads the contexts of a consumer, where he is etc. and the corresponding information from the internet. Basically we tried to do an app which with online information can automatically help a consumer in a certain location, with certain weather etc.
Your course was entitled “Context Programing with Silverlight and Windows Phone” – What is context programming?
Terho: Context is all the sensor information smartphones like the Android ones, the Windows phone or the iPhone nowadays can get about their user and their situation. They know the geo position, they know the compass direction, and they might even know the weather. So the moment you are using your phone is what I call context.
And how can users profit from context programming in their daily life?
Terho: What we try to do is minimize the amount of times the consumer needs to strike the keys or press the display: as the phone already knows your context, it can tell e.g. the five things you are going to do next if you repeat your old behavior. We also tried to differentiate the context for different day times since many use their smartphone as daily tool but do different activities in the morning then in the evening. The smartphone will show you whatever your personalized next is; it will try to guess what you will do next e.g. going to a certain store.
Do users want that? What about privacy?
Terho: The privacy concerns will have to be addressed, but – as far I understand the consumer – they currently give everything to Facebook, Google, Apple and the like... Consumers say they have concerns, but they don’t behave accordingly. It’s strange. But of course at Nokia we follow all the necessary consumer legislation when selling our software and products. Technologies we have developed like IE for Nokia protect the user information so that nobody can get them.
You are the Vice-President of Nokia Mobile Phones…
Terho: Yes, but to me being a fellow is a more interesting concept and I’m more proud of that. Usually in high tech companies like Nokia, they are the highest ranking individual contributors. At Nokia in these bad times now we have about 60.000 people and two fellows. Also, I’m the only fellow who has this executive contract. Basically, I’m the top nerd at the company.
How is it going for Nokia right now?
Terho: Well, you can read all about our strategies in the media. Our products are selling good. Italy is still one of the good markets for us. In Italy and in Scandinavia everything is still extremely good.
Would you want to come again and teach at the Summer School here?
Terho: I have no objection to it. It has been very easy for me to arrange but of course it’s up to the Faculty if they want me again. Also, I have to see with my colleagues at home what we are going to do with the software developed by the students here.