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NEMO builds empathy and natural interaction on the Internet – Teosto is part of the winning project at Helsinki Challenge


The winners of the science-based Helsinki Challenge competition were selected on Friday 13 November. Teosto participated in the NEMO – Natural Emotionality in Digital Interaction team which won the competition.

The award sum of 375,000 euros was divided among two teams: The NEMO project that placed first received 250,000 euros, and the Biodiversity Now that came second 125,000 euros. The aim of the prize is to help the teams realise their ideas.    

The leader of the winning NEMO team is researcher Katri Saarikivi from the University of Helsinki. Team members from Teosto are Ano Sirppiniemi and Turo Pekari, and other team members are Vesa Putkinen, Tommi Makkonen, Mari Tervaniemi, Valtteri Wikström, Arto Markku, Johan Sundström, Wesa Aapro, Kaisa Järnefelt, Kosti Rytkönen and Silja Martikainen.

Emotions in a digital setting

NEMO develops new ways of digitalising emotions and transmitting them online. The team visualises emotion-driven add-ons to digital interaction platforms and wants to create an open source code which anyone can use to develop new applications that enable empathy in a digital setting.

The international panel of the Helsinki Challenge competition describe NEMO’s idea as original, creative and solution-focused.  

– Digital transmission of emotions and collecting big data from emotions are a fully new and fascinating field of research, and Teosto wants to be involved in its future, Ano Sirppiniemi, Research Manager at Teosto says.

– Music is an important channel for transmitting emotions, and music could have a major role in the applications that support empathy which the project will develop, says Turo Pekari, Senior Advisor, innovation and discovery at Teosto.

Year-long science-based idea competition

The Helsinki Challenge competition was launched in 2014. In October 2014, 144 teams signed up for the competition, and the judges selected 20 of these as semifinalists in December. The multidisciplinary teams looked for solutions to major global challenges, developing them in cooperation with business life, the media, decision-makers and a large number of experts from both Finland and abroad. The competition marked the celebration of the university’s 375th anniversary.

Members of the finals panel were Thomas Wilhelmsson, Chancellor of the University of Helsinki (Chairman), Sally Mapstone, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Oxford, Pasi Sahlberg, Professor at Harvard University, Ulrich Weinberg, Director of the Hasso-Plattner Institute School of Design Thinking and Mikko Kosonen, President of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.

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