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NEPPI @ Flash Vallisaari 21.-22.9.2018


NEPPI is a pilot project for a new kind of combination of three courses (combining art, business, and design) at the Aalto University. At Flash Vallisaari Lights Festival we presented an experience that flipped the relationship between human and nature on its head. What if nature would get is energy through us, humans? The art installation by Aalto NEPPI course provoked the participants to investigate the possibilities through multiple sensory stimuli. 

Exhibition Design

Jennifer Lipkin
Lea Randebrock
Liisi Soroush
J. Camilo Sánchez Carranco (audio)

Concept Design

Jennifer Lipkin
Lea Randebrock
Liisi Soroush
Jukka Malkamäki
Sunil Basnet
Mubarak Nauman
Joonas Peuralinna

Technical Implementation

Ville Hiltunen
Sunil Basnet
Mubarak Nauman


Technology and Interaction

The Photosynthesis installation combined multiple technologies into a concerted whole. The installation was controlled by interactive lamps, Domes. With the Domes the audience could interact with a wall-sized 3D-visualisation. The Domes were colourful lights that changed their colour whenever left alone for a while. Once a person would lift a Dome, it would choose the current colour, which would be then copied across to the 3D visualisation.

Gesture Sensing and Communication

The visualisation featured a broad spherical sea where the individual Dome representations would nest. Once the interaction started, the representation would escape their watery nest and paint a trace in the current colour of the Dome. The communication between the Dome and the visualisation was achieved with the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. The electronic circuit board and embedded software were created by the students with the assistance of the teachers.

Connecting across Rooms to Lights and Sounds

The audience could interact with the Dome in two different ways. The first way – tilting the device – controlled the 3D visualisation. The second way – shaking – controlled the brighthness of a sun in another room as well as the audio installation that formed part of the whole. The communication between the devices and the sun was mediated by Unity3D game engine. Messages from the Domes were sent over BLE to Unity and then through serial communication to an Arduino board that controlled a large LED inside a sun structure.

Audio installation – the Butterfly Effect

To spice up the whole experience, the interactivity was also connected to the soundscape across the three rooms that the installation was spread within. The ‘energy’ of the sound was stimulated by the shaking of the Domes. The signals from the Domes were communicate to the sound installation through DLE, Unity (with the Open Sound Communication system) and WiFi. The audio installation merged audio recordings from the Vallisaari island with synthetic sounds with the Supercollider software programmed by J. Camilo Sánchez Carranco (see more of his works at krrnk.com).


Images from the installation below (they may load slowly, so please, be patient).

Behind the Scenes

“This was a quite unexpected project!”, says Dr. Salu Ylirisku, a responsible teacher for the course. The course was beyond success compared to the limited amount of participants. “We simply had super persistent talents”, Ylirisku continues. The intent of the NEPPI  course is to enable students to learn about creating IoT Products from early idea to production-ready specifications. Below you find us woking on the project in Vallisaari.

The teaching crew

Dr. Salu Ylirisku (Concept Design)
Prof. Pekka Nikander (IoT Technology)
MA Jenni Huttunen (Research assistance)
MSc. Tanweer Muhammad (Electronics and networking)
BSc. Pyry Vikberg (Electronics)