Oulu Bioscience Networking Event 2020 (OBNE20) has been replaced by a blog series which highlights Innovative interdisciplinary research activities in Oulu. Enjoy!
Most of us carry smart devices with us wherever we go. Usually the device is a mobile phone but other devices, such as smart watches and rings, are becoming more and more common. The rapid development in smart devices makes it possible to gather data in unforeseen ways. Importantly, since the quality of the collected data has improved, an interest has sparked to utilize mobile devices in medical research and disease treatment. This has also intrigued Simo Hosio, a University of Oulu researcher with highly multidisciplinary approaches. Simo is an Associate Professor at the Center for Ubiquitous Computing and in the GenZ Tenure Track programme, a member of the of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine in Oulu Group, and a Biocenter Oulu group leader together with Denzil Ferreira. He investigates human-computer interaction and how the data gathered from mobile devices can change the way we diagnose, prevent and treat medical conditions like lower back pain. “In the future, mobile devices will be an integral part of treatment and will improve the quality of life of the patients.“, Simo argues.
Simo has strong roots in Oulu. He has acquired both, MSc and PhD in information engineering, from the university of Oulu. During his master’s studies, he spent 10 months in Japan working with the Internet of Things (IoT; e.g. internet-connected furniture). After completing his MSc, Simo pursued a career in academia, a decision fortified by the freedom the academic world could provide. “From the very beginning I have been able to mold what kind of research I wish to do”, says Simo, “And it’s important that I can work with multiple projects at the same time and always look for novel solutions. For me, doing only one thing at a time is impossible”.
“In the future, mobile devices will be an integral part of treatment and will improve the quality of life of the patients“
As a social computing scientist, Simo’s research is highly multidisciplinary. His main place of work is in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering but recently he was also appointed as an Associate Professor (tenure track) in the GenZ programme. In addition, Simo was also appointed to a group leader position in Biocenter Oulu’s Research Project ICON: Interventions and Contextual Understanding for Low Back Pain Research together with Denzil Ferreira. “Biocenter Oulu provides excellent funding to hire new people to tackle problems to better lower back pain diagnostics and treatment”, says Simo.
During his PhD studies, Simo spent time in the University of Lapland where he continued to work with IoT-based solutions, this time to better monitoring in an elderly care facility. This is when Simo got his first touch with health sciences. What finally got Simo to lean towards medical sciences was collaboration with Jaro Karppinen, a University of Oulu professor of physiatry, who needed a help in a project. “In fact, it was just something that needed to be done, medical sciences were not of my interest to begin with”. However, this project and discussions with Jaro led to a deeper collaboration and soon enough Simo had an additional project in developing novel methods to study and treat lower back pain with mobile phones. The idea is that physical therapy given to a patient could be done through mobile phone which learns what are the best exercises for the patient, what is the best time for a patient to do them and how to engage the patient to adhere to the treatment. Currently, patient treatment adherence is the weakest point of the therapy. In the Biocenter Oulu ICON project, Simo tries to gain better insight of the lives of patients with lower back pain. The insight could end up providing novel and fully personalized tools for patients through machine learning. Simo is a new face at the Kontinkangas campus: “But due to COVID-19, I still don’t know much people from here” Simo adds. However, the ICON project has already stemmed some additional projects combining social computing with psychiatry.
In his free time Simo spends time with his family and likes to build web pages for fun and for commercial use. For example, Simo launched https://pysykotona.com, a website with an aim to connect remote workers with employers. “It’s crazy how fast you can nowadays build websites from a scratch! Internet truly is a LEGO toolbox for adults. I wish I’d had more time to promote the website”. To get to know people and to expand his research even further, Simo is always available for a coffee.
– Interview by Mikko Karpale
Image of Simo Hosio by Ari-Pekka Kvist