Dr. Antero Taivalsaari

    Fellow & Distinguished Engineer @ Nokia Bell Labs
    Adjunct Professor (docent) @ Tampere University (TUNI)

I've been a software enthusiast since the 1980s. Over the years, I have been involved in nearly all aspects of software development, ranging from embedded software to PC, mobile and web development, and more recently cloud backend software and IoT systems. My biggest claim to fame was the work on Java™ Platform, Micro Edition (Java on mobile phones) in the late 1990s and early 2000s (more information below). However, in 2006 I became a believer in web-based software development, and I've been on that road ever since. Web-based software and the Software as a Service model have already resulted in a fundamental paradigm shift in the development, deployment and use of software.

More recently, I have become fascinated by Internet of Things (IoT) especially from the programmability viewpoint. The evolution towards the Internet of Things will ultimately result in a Programmable World in which even the simplest and cheapest things in our surroundings will be capable of running a full-fledged software platform or virtual machine, and can thus be controlled and even reprogrammed remotely. Our current software development methods and languages are inadequate for situations in which we'd routinely have millions of connected, programmable things in our environment. I am also interested in Isomorphic IoT Architectures that make it possible to use the same development technologies for all elements (devices, gateways, cloud, apps) in an end-to-end IoT system.

In our earlier projects, we were heavily focused on multiple device ownership and Liquid Software (in Finnish: liukkaat ohjelmistot) – an approach that allows applications and data to move seamlessly between multiple devices and screens, making it possible for the users to roam effortlessly between different devices and screens. In the future consumers will have a dramatically larger number of internet-connected computing devices in their daily lives; liquid software will play a central role in enabling truly casual and painless multiple device ownership.

Over the years, I've built various software systems and written a lot of research papers on these and other topics with my colleagues at Sun Microsystems, Tampere University of Technology, Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs. Refer to publications for further information.

Recent highlights: Read our article in IEEE Software Jan/Feb 2017 issue for a summary of central software development challenges in the Programmable World area.

A more recently published conference paper Beyond the Next 700 IoT Platforms and our IEEE Software May/June 2018 article A Taxonomy of IoT Client Architectures continue the same themes further.

Background, 1998-2006 (Java Platform, Micro Edition)

At Sun Microsystems, I was best known as the "father" of Java Platform, Micro Edition (Java ME™), that is, Java on mobile phones. Java ME (originally known as J2ME) was the first industry-wide cross-platform mobile software platform that launched the application revolution on mobile phones. I started the Spotless research project at Sun Labs in Mountain View, California, with Bill Bush in January 1998. As part of that effort, I wrote the original version of the K Virtual Machine (KVM) that became the starting point of Java ME. In January 2006, the number of Java ME enabled mobile phones and other devices exceeded 1 billion worldwide, and in 2010 the number exceeded 3 billion. Nowadays, Android is the most popular Java-based mobile operating system, but until the mid-2010s the Java ME system was available on almost all the mobile phones.

From August 1999 until the end of 2001 I was the Engineering Manager of the KVM/CLDC team at Java Software in Cupertino and Santa Clara, California, leading the team that created the original product versions of the Java ME platform. I was also the Specification Lead of the Java ME CLDC 1.0 and CLDC 1.1 standardization efforts – the base programming interfaces for nearly all mobile Java devices. In 2002-2006 I held various roles related to Java Virtual Machine development and Java ME standardization at Sun Microsystems, participating in several industry-wide Java standards activities across the world.

I've received Sun's Chairman's Award from Scott McNealy twice (in 2000 and 2003), as well as the Mobile Entertainment Forum's Outstanding Contribution Award (in 2009) for the work on Java ME and the founding of the cross-platform mobile application business. After spending seven years in Sun's Java Software organization, I returned back to Sun Labs in August 2006, and started working on projects related to web programming and mobile web applications.

Background, 2006-2009 (Lively Web Programming Environment)

During the last years of Sun Microsystems (2006-2009), I was back at Sun Labs, where we started a number of activities around web technologies and JavaScript. With Dan Ingalls, Krzysztof Palacz and Prof. Tommi Mikkonen, we created the original version of Sun Labs Lively Kernel: the first truly interactive web programming environment that ran in a standard web browser without any installation or plug-in components – the entire Lively Kernel system is just a web page. The Lively system evolved into a number of variants, including Lively for Qt and Lively 3D.

Nowadays, browser-based interactive JavaScript IDEs are very popular (see, e.g., Codepen.io, JSBin, JSFiddle or Liveweave), but back in 2006 no such systems existed. The Lively Kernel is still quite unique in its extreme "liveliness", as seen in this excellent talk by Dan Ingalls. The Lively Kernel is maintained and developed further by Prof. Robert Hirschfeld's research team at Hasso-Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany.

We recently wrote a ten-year anniversary article on Lively that was published and presented in the ACM SPLASH'2016 conference.

Background, 2009-2011 (Cloudberry HTML5 Mobile Phone Platform)

After rejoining Nokia Research Center following a twelve-year stint at Sun Microsystems, Kari Systä and I started Project Cloudberry: an effort to demonstrate the feasibility of a cloud phone – a mobile device platform in which all the customer facing end user software is written in HTML5/JavaScript. In the Cloudberry system, even the most fundamental applications of the mobile platform – such as the phone dialer – are written in JavaScript. As is typical of HTML5 applications, most of the software in Cloudberry is executed locally on the device. However, since the majority of Cloudberry software is provisioned from the cloud, nearly all the customer facing aspects of the system can be changed on the fly, potentially on millions of devices across the world, simply by making new version(s) available on the server.

The results of the Cloudberry project were reported in the July/August 2012 issue of IEEE Software.

© XKCD.com (http://xkcd.com/1367)

Background, 2012– (Liquid Multi-Device Software)

In late 2011, while still at "old" Nokia (prior to Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's Device business in September 2013), we shifted focus to liquid multi-device software, i.e., to software that works totally seamlessly across multiple screens and devices. Read our Liquid Software Manifesto for an overview of this area, as well as our 2015 paper on a multi-device data architecture for some of the key technical ideas. In late 2013 we started a new Liquid Software Research Team at Tampere University of Technology as a follow-up theme to our earlier web programming research topics. In June 2016, we arranged the 1st International Workshop on Liquid Software in conjunction with the International Conference on Web Engineering (ICWE'2016) in Lugano, Switzerland. The 2nd International Liquid Software Workshop was held in Rome at ICWE'2017 in June 2017.


Background, 2014– (Programmable World / The Internet of Things)

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents the next significant step in the evolution of the Internet. In the early days in the 1970s and 1980s, the Internet was primarily about connecting computers. In the 1990s and 2000s, the Internet was all about connecting people. In contrast, in the 2010s and 2020s the focus is shifting towards connecting everything (literally every thing) to the Internet.

The evolution towards the Internet of Things will eventually result in the creation of a Programmable World in which even the simplest things and most ordinary artifacts are connected to public or private clouds, and can be controlled and even reprogrammed remotely. While the majority of IoT R&D work today focuses on sensor data acquisition, analytics, machine learning and other fashionable big data topics, the possibility to dynamically manage, (re)configure and (re)program simple devices remotely will enable a huge variety of additional use cases, services and applications, opening up entirely new product families and ecosystems.

At Nokia Technologies, we created our first publicly demonstrated end-to-end IoT device and cloud platform solutions back in 2014. Since then, we created various research and product development efforts focusing especially on the Digital Health domain. Among other topics, one of our areas of interest were the Cellular IoT technologies (NB-IoT, LTE-M); these low-power wide area network (LPWAN) technologies might end up eliminating the need for gateway devices in IoT systems altogether, allowing small devices such as smartwatches to be connected to the cloud directly at reasonable energy efficiency.

At Nokia Bell Labs, we are especially interested in streaming data systems, i.e., IoT end-to-end systems and devices that are capable of streaming large quantities of sensor data, and processing and reacting to changes in near real time.

Read our article in IEEE Software Jan/Feb 2017 issue for a summary of central software development challenges in the Programmable World area.

Background prior to 1998

Before joining Sun Microsystems in 1997, I worked as a Research Manager at Nokia Research Center in Helsinki, Finland, including a one-year stint at Nokia Telecommunications (precursor to Nokia Networks). Most of my work back then focused on creating tools for supporting geographically distributed software development. Read our 1997 conference paper TDE: Supporting Geographically Distributed Software Design with Shared, Collaborative Workspaces for details.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I spent several years in the academic world, and completed a doctoral degree in computer science at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) in 1993, after working 1 1/2 years as a guest researcher in Canada at Concordia University (Montréal, Québec) and University of Victoria (Victoria, British Columbia). My doctoral thesis focused on software reuse and inheritance mechanisms in object-oriented programming languages, and it was awarded as the best doctoral dissertation in computer science in Finland in 1994.

Some Past Activities and Events

  • Lively for Qt
  • Sun™ Labs Lively Kernel
  • Mobile Entertainment Forum Outstanding Contribution Award (Meffys Award) (June 23, 2009)

    Professional Interests

  • Programmable World & software development for the Internet of Things
  • Streaming data IoT Systems & Cellular IoT technologies (NB-IoT, LTE-M)
  • Isomorphic IoT system architectures
  • Liquid software and multiple device ownership
  • Digital health topics and the Internet of Vital Signs
  • Web programming, web-based software development and cloud backend technologies
  • Software development for mobile devices and systems
  • Virtual machines and interactive programming languages
  • User interface technologies (especially for the Web and mobile devices)
  • Collaborative, distributed software engineering environments and tools
  • Conceptual modeling and visualization techniques
  • Foundations of software engineering and web engineering, including software reuse
  • Publications and Patents

  • Publications (see also Lively@TUT research team publications)
  • Approved U.S. Patents
  • Awards

  • Bell Labs Fellow nomination, 2016
  • Nokia Fellow nomination, 2013/2015
  • Mobile Entertainment Forum Outstanding Contribution Award (Meffys Award), 2009
  • University of Jyväskylä (Finland), Alumnus of the Year Award, 2007
  • Sun Microsystems Chairman's Award for Innovation, 2003
  • Sun Microsystems Chairman's Award for Innovation, 2000
  • Award for the Best Doctoral Thesis in Computer Science in Finland in 1994 (awarded by the Finnish Society for Computer Science)

    Activities at Tampere University (formerly Tampere University of Technology)

  • I am an adjunct professor (docent) in the Computing Sciences Unit at TUNI (formerly in the Department of Pervasive Computing at TUT)
  • I am a co-founder of the Web Programming Research Team and Liquid Software Research Team at TUT
  • Over the years, these teams have produced:
  • 6 doctoral degrees,
  • about 30 M.Sc. degrees, and
  • about 120 peer-reviewed academic publications.
  • Below is a list of the seminars that I have arranged at TUT:
  • Backend as a Service (BaaS) Seminar, Fall 2013 (co-organized with Prof. Kari Systä)
  • NoSQL Databases Seminar, Fall 2012 (co-organized with Prof. Tommi Mikkonen)
  • WebGL Seminar, December 2010 — March 2011 (co-organized with Prof. Tommi Mikkonen)
  • Mashup Development Seminar, Fall 2008 (co-organized with Prof. Tommi Mikkonen)
  • Web Application Development Seminar, Fall 2007 (co-organized with Prof. Tommi Mikkonen)
  • Web-Oriented Software Development Seminar, Spring 2006 (co-organized with Prof. Tommi Mikkonen)
  • Virtual Machine Design Seminar, Fall 2003
  • Recent conference chairmanships:
  • Industry Co-Chair for the 20th International Conference on Web Engineering (ICWE'2020, Helsinki, Finland, June 2020)
  • Industry Co-Chair for the 18th International Conference on Web Engineering (ICWE'2018, Caceres, Spain, June 2018)
  • Recent workshops and tutorials:
  • 2nd International Workshop on Liquid Multi-Device Software (Rome, Italy, June 2017)
  • 1st International Workshop on Liquid Multi-Device Software (Lugano, Switzerland, June 2016)
  • Recent program committee memberships:
  • 2018-2020: ICWE'2020, ICWE'2018, IEEE/ACM MobileSoft'2018
  • 2015-2017: IEEE/ACM MobileSoft'2017, IEEE/ACM MobileSoft'2016, ICWE'2016
  • 2013-2014: IEEE CIT'2014, DLS'2013
  • 2012: WSE'2012, SEAA'2012, MobiWIS'2012
  • 2011: WSE'2011, SEAA'2011,
  • 2010: S3'2010, WSE'2010, PPPJ'2010
  • 2009: DLS'2009
  • In addition, over the years I have served as a reviewer for a number of journals, including:
  • IEEE Computer
  • IEEE Software
  • IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
  • Journal of Systems and Software
  • Nordic Journal of Computing
  • Theory and Practice of Object Systems

    Family and Hobbies

  • Wife and four grown-up children
  • Most of my hobbies revolve around endurance sports, nature and science
  • I am a passionate cross-country marathon skier, mountain & road bicyclist and motorcyclist
  • Reading and writing scientific papers
  • Traveling in Norway
  • Norsk sprÃ¥k og norske dialekter
  • Occasionally I play music (mostly blues) with electric, acoustic and resonator steel guitars



  • Jeg er en stor fan av norsk country og folkemusikk, blant annet artister som Staut, Hellbillies, Vassendgutane, Henning Kvitnes og Narum.
  • Favorite quotes
  • My SunLabs alumni article (February 2006)
  • My interview at 'wireless.java.sun.com' (January 2004)