Focusing on User Experience and Sustainability

Technology products and services are increasingly part of all facets of people’s every day lives. Smooth human-technology interaction and delighting user experience are major contributors to utilising technology successfully to improve people’s quality of life. At the same time we face major challenges in sustainability of our lifestyles and of the world at large. IHTE research group is committed to advancing technological developments for sustainable future.

The major research approach in IHTE’s research is design research, more specifically research through design. We conduct design efforts utilising methods of human-centered design such as interviews, observations and surveys, followed up with co-design, workshops and user evaluation studies. The design research outcomes provide theoretical contributions in form of design guidelines and new models of user experience and human-technology interaction.

Research topics and projects

IHTE’s research is multidisciplinary by nature, combining knowledge from technical and humanistic fields. The research is often conducted in cooperation with industry and other research units. Most of IHTE’s research funding is external and comes from competitive sources such as Academy of Finland, Business Finland, EU and various national sources.

Current research topics and projects include:

All Youth Want To Rule Their World (ALL-YOUTH), 2018–2023

ALL-YOUTH – All youth want to rule their world is a multidisciplinary research project which explores the capacities of young people (aged between 16 and 25) and the obstacles that hamper their engagement with society. We also explore the visions of youth regarding sustainable future, growth and well-being. The main goal of IHTE’s research in ALL-YOUTH project is to create digital possibilities and to enable young people to participate in making their own communities and the society.

ALL-YOUTH is funded by Strategic Research Council of Finland, a funding organisation for societal impact, associated with Academy of Finland. Contact: Kaisa Väänänen, Jari Varsaluoma.

Persuasive Social Robots for Youth Participation in Digital Civics (RoboCivics), 2019-2023

RoboCivics project investigates how social robots can be designed to motivate and facilitate youth in civic participation in the domain of sustainable development. Applying persuasive interaction techniques in social robot design has the potential to entice their users to new types of behaviour. In RoboCivics, social robots will be co-designed with the youth (15-24 years) to gain understanding of the youth’s perspectives to desirable and effective forms of social robot interaction. The main objective of RoboCivics is to create new scientific knowledge about interaction models of persuasive social robots that can motivate youth to civic participation. The results of RoboCivics will help youth become more active societally and support designers in creation of acceptable designs in the future society populated with social robots. The scientific results will significantly advance academic understanding of the human-centered design of persuasive social robots.

RoboCivics is funded by Academy of Finland. Contact: Kaisa Väänänen, Kirsikka Kaipainen

Social robots as learning assistants, 2018-

Social robots can be utilized in schools for several learning tasks and for improving kids’ motivation. Our research investigates the long-term user experience of social robots in the classroom context by exploring the perspectives of pupils, teachers and parents. The research is conducted in several primary schools in Tampere. So far, the findings are encouraging with the social robot Elias (link: The kids enjoy learning with Elias and it has the ability to motivate kids by several means. Contact: Aino Ahtinen

AI Hub Tampere, 2019-2021

AI Hub Tampere is a new artificial intelligence research center hosted by Tampere University and funded by public instruments. Our principle is to make AI easy to reach and affordable. Among other things, AI Hub involves a work package to study and improve human-machine interaction on intelligent machines. Design, development and evaluation of novel interaction methods mainly for industrial robots is one of the tasks included. On this wp, IHTE works in close collaboration with TAU Robolab.

is funded by EU’s ESR funds, provided via Pirkanmaa municipality (Pirkanmaan liitto). Contact: Aino Ahtinen

Living Lab Bus (LLB), 2016-2019

The practical goal of the Living Lab Bus (LLB) project is to enable the development, testing and demonstration of various services and technologies by using innovative electric buses as a concrete platform in a real use environment.  The research goal of IHTE is to develop and investigate design tools for development of persuasive digital services for the bus transportation context.

Living Lab Bus project is funded by Business Finland. Contact: Kaisa Väänänen, Elina Hilden

Sustainable Tourism Hub, 2018-2020

The aim of the project is to build a centre of carbon-neutral travel services in the area of Särkänniemi in the city of Tampere. IHTE’s research contributes to the human-centered design of the sustainable travel services.

Sustainable Tourism Hub project is funded by EU’s EAKR funds, provided via Pirkanmaa municipality (Pirkanmaan liitto). Contact: Kirsikka Kaipainen, Kaisa Väänänen

Sustainable Tourism Mobility, 2021-2023

The aim of the Sustainable Tourism Mobility project is to develop low-carbon mobility solutions for tourism in Pirkanmaa region. IHTE’s research focuses on human-centered design and evaluation of new service concepts.

Sustainable Tourism Mobility project is funded by the Council of Tampere Region, REACT-ERDF EU funding. Contact: Kirsikka Kaipainen