Looking for Professor Millennium

“Professor Millennium’s laboratory blew up,” the man in a blue cap says on the podium. "Your job is to find the technologies he invented."

Teknologiaseikkailu2One of the attractions in the newly opened Millennium Pavilion is a technology adventure for school students entitled Professor Millennium’s Lost Lab. The game includes ten interactive sites where participants learn about new and old technology.

The student groups are given Nokia’s Lumia mini tablets that serve as guides in the adventure. A fish symbol in the tablet shows the way to the next adventure site. In case of problems, there is a chatbox where participants can ask for advice from a character called Linus.

Eight mini tablets with maps of the Kansalaistori Square area (Helsinki) in them are snatched up by the groups and the adventure begins. Working in groups of three, the youngsters need no instructions to get the hang of the game. Taking a picture of a special code at the first, warm-up site reveals the location of the next adventure point, and the groups scatter from the Millennium Pavilion in the centre of the square, some heading for the Sanoma House, others for the Helsinki Music Centre next door.

About 20 minutes later, the first group of students finds its way down to the Helsinki Music Centre basement. “Welcome to the sound point,” the guide greets them in the dim room.

Teknologiaseikkailu1One of the girls tracing the lost technologies of Professor Millennium steps into the spotlight of the Kinect motion sensor and starts to make sounds – using bare hands. A stick figure appears on a screen and begins to follow her movements. The pitch of sounds coming from the speakers can be adjusted just by moving your hands.

One of the developers of the street adventure is Marko Turpeinen, director of the Helsinki node of ICT Labs of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. He follows the start of the first orienteering group with interest. The experiential event is a joint effort by researchers at Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Nokia Research Center. The multi-disciplinary project has required input from technology experts as well as set designers at Aalto University Film School.

“It’s a pretty big production,” says Ville-Veikko Mattila from Nokia Research Center. The adventure game is used to test augmented reality and interactive screen technologies.

“We are testing to see how well these two technologies work together,” says Mattila.

Although Nokia is no longer a phone manufacturer, the company is eagerly looking into augmented reality. Geographic information is already a big business for the new Nokia. In the future, augmented reality applications will help people navigate in the urban environment.

According to Turpeinen, the greatest challenge is to make navigation a pleasant experience.

“This age group is a very critical audience,” he says.


The adventure organisers are EIT ICT Labs, Forum Virium Helsinki, Nokia HIIT, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and TAF.


See the Millennium Pavilion programme 28 April – 14 May 2014 at


Text and photos by Petja Partanen