Aalto University Digital Design Laboratory, }ADD{

Image courtesy of IdeaLab@CERN.

The intent of the course is to bring the innovations of CERN closer to the society with faster pace with power of multidisciplinary teams and product development coaching. ADD is together with Aalto Design Factory organizing the course in Aalto University. School of Arts, Design and Architecture, School of Business, School of Electrical Engineering and School of Engineering have been open-minded forerunners in bringing the CERN collaboration to a new level.

The students of multiple disciplines were divided into two groups. One team was to create a learning tool for autistic children inspired by the technology developed in EDUSAFE ITN at CERN. Another was asked to explore different learning environments and get inspired by the technology and knowledge developed in TALENT ITN, also at CERN, to create a product concept of value. The teams were named based on the EU-funded R&D projects that inspired their challenges.

Team CBI EDUSAFE had no previous experience working with autistic children. They wanted to encourage social interaction and enhance the learning experience of autistic children. Their final concept prototype is a multi-touch platform combined with tangible blocks that children can use to interact with each other and the platform itself. A block is linked to an individual child who can use it to communicate with the blocks of other children. It can be used to play games or to converse. The blocks also work beyond its designed platform.

Team CBI TALENT, whose initial challenge was very open-ended, came up with CMPRSSD, a communications platform that aims to change the way meetings are held. CMPRSSD saves audio recording of meetings, allowing users to share, tag, and link interesting audio lines with collaborators.

Image courtesy of IdeaLab@CERN.

Image courtesy of IdeaLab@CERN.

Image courtesy of IdeaLab@CERN.

The students worked through multiple rounds of ideas throughout the five-month period; brainstorming, building, testing and refining prototypes with real end users. After testing their many different prototypes in order to assure the optimal desirable and functional attributes, they were able to encapsulate the essence of needs in both projects.

The course is aimed to be regular part of Aalto curriculum after its pilot phase 2013–14.

The course aims to:

  • Develop highly futuristic, technologically feasible ideas that have the potential to challenge the status quo in socially and globally relevant human centric challenges.
  • Develop skills applying design thinking tools and methods and product design in a practical real world project.
  • Develop skills in moving ideas into testable, tangible prototypes quickly.
  • Develop skills in interdisciplinary teamwork and communication.
  • Teach how to collaborate in a diverse and international research organization.



Jouni Partanen, Director, Director of Engineering
Kivi Sotamaa, Design Director
Heikki Sjöman, Infrastructure Development


Teaching team of ten people within Finland, CERN, Greece and Italy.