perjantai 16. marraskuuta 2012

Dice 2.1 is out - and it's faster than ever!

We just pushed in an update to our fabulous Fantasy Dice!

The most important treat is that this release takes the performance to a totally new level. As an example, on Samsung Galaxy S3 you could have four dice running at full speed (FPS60) - now it's nine. We have more than doubled the performance. Thanks go to our optimizing guru Kine, who's done a fantastic job here.

We've also got some good news for Nexus 7 owners: Fantasy Dice 2.1 now fully supports this device. It took some time to get a hold on one here in Oulu, Finland - but now score counting and that great mirror effect work perfectly also on Nexus 7.

Happy dice bouncing - the update should become available in a few hours via Google Play.

Get it on Google Play

perjantai 2. marraskuuta 2012

We give you: Fantasy Dice 2.0

We have just released a major update to the amazing Fantasy Dice! Our die casting virtuosos Kine and Antti have been pushing long hours for several weeks to give it both a face-lift and new features. Here are some highlights of the milk and honey that come along version 2.0:

New glossy surface and shadows make the 3D effect even more realistic, especially when dice become airborne.

New marble theme with reflection effect - yum yum!
All gamers, ahoy! Total score display has arrived.

We dare to say that with these updates Fantasy Dice becomes one of the best die casting apps in Google Play. Go get the update and enjoy, it's still completely FREE. And stay tuned, more updates are coming.

Get it on Google Play

torstai 1. marraskuuta 2012

3D Gyro Compass v. 1.1 is out (and so is 1.11 and 1.12)

We've just released our first update to our popular 3D Gyro Compass app! This update brings you graphical improvements, better compass algorithm, and some bug fixes. 

For example, in the adventure mode the compass rings are now made of pure gold - a highly appreciated feature for all the archaeologists in the jungles of Amazon looking for the great treasures of the Incas. And do not worry, Mr. Jones, despite the high price of gold the app is still FREE.

Compass algorithm has also been improved. It should now work well in areas where magnetic vector is mostly perpendicular to the surface of the Earth, i.e. the Northern and Southern parts of the planet.

More updates are planned, so stay tuned.

We received our first 1-star review just after the update to version 1.1 :( This user was having texture problems with Nexus 7, and wishing for faster start-up time.

So we went back to optimizing our package. We managed to reduce .apk size 35%, and boost start-up time from 20 seconds to just 6 s. The first start where you accept the EULA is special and still somewhat slow, but after that start-up time shouldn't be a problem anymore. Texture bugs are more difficult to address, especially when we don't have Nexus 7 devices yet and all our test phones seem to draw everything just fine. We'll have to come back to this when we have a device that shows the texture bug.

Nexus 7 devices became available on our local gadget shop yesterday, so went and bought one right away to be able to fix the texture bug. After a few hours of tinkering it turned out that the problem wasn't in the texture after all, the compass ball just wasn't lighted - it was plainly sitting in the dark! That was easy to fix. However, we still don't know why the existing lamp in the scene didn't work in Nexus 7 while it works fine in all other devices we have... another hit of Android fragmentation. Guess we'll be buying lots of test devices.

We also noticed that colors in Nexus 7 are quite washed out when compared for example to Galaxy S2. Well, now the adventure compass is coated with 24k gold like a real thing. Back to treasure hunting, then!

Version 1.12 will be available in Google Play shortly.

tiistai 23. lokakuuta 2012

Updates in the works...

Just to let you know: we are currently preparing updates for our most impressive apps, 3D Gyro Compass and Fantasy Dice. We've been improving both the algorithms and the graphics. Here's a couple of noticeable things that will change:

The compass will perform even better than before, especially at areas not so far from the Earth's magnetic poles (like Oulu, Finland), where the magnetic vector has a large vertical component. This has turned out to be tricky to handle with Madgwick's original algorithm, but we have created a solution that we're pretty happy about.

In the graphics department, we've added shiny surfaces, reflections, new materials etc. The new Fantasy Dice looks better than any other dice app in Google Play! Stay tuned, we'll post teaser screenshots later.

Oh, one more thing. We have a new sensor fusion app! It's not yet ready to be released, but already in a quite good shape. We think that you'll find it pretty impressive when you get it in your hands. Here's a teaser screenshot so you can start guessing what is it all about (hint: we've licensed the image from

perjantai 12. lokakuuta 2012

Sensor fusion algorithm

We have been happy to receive many queries about the sensor fusion algorithm. While it is based on Sebastian Madgwick's work and his original version can be downloaded from here, we have also made available our own slightly modified version (as required by the LGPL license).

Due to the number of queries, we have now moved from email support to direct downloads, i.e. we are now hosting the file on our web servers and you download it directly from here.

Nevertheless, we'd really like to hear about you, so don't hesitate to drop a line by email (info[at] or by commenting here.

perjantai 5. lokakuuta 2012

AI apps updated

We have just pushed in update release for each AI app. Here's the changelog:

1.1.0 Feature update
- Added widget initialization from history
- Added widget overlay icons
- Increased widget text size
- Widget graphics & layout updated
- Minor bug fixes

In addition to this, Web AI has also much improved bookmark icon downloading algorithm and better icon graphics (when supported by websites).

New versions will be available in Google Play shortly.

Update: Installation packages now available.

tiistai 25. syyskuuta 2012

Fantasy Dice is finally out!

We're so pleased to announce that Fantasy Dice is finally released!

Our last few tweaks were worth it, it now supports much more devices and has better performance overall.

This is in fact the third dice app from our sensor team. Two previous ones were technology demos made for key customers years ago, and not publicly available. Hence, we are very exited to reveal this FREE app for everyone to download and have fun with! Share freely and let us here what you think about it.

Update: Video changed to newer one.

Get it on Google Play

torstai 20. syyskuuta 2012


So we too fell for this one. I guess it had to happen eventually...

We have a bunch of different kinds of Android devices in our lab for development and testing. But, there are hundreds of different devices running different versions of Android, so of course it is impossible to have them all and test each device. Unfortunately, they really do behave differently from software developer's point of view. That's platform fragmentation.

Long story short, after pushing the last update to our AI apps we started to receive bug reports of suddenly missing content from the widgets. It took some time to figure it all out, as none of our development devices had ever showed this behavior. So we went shopping and bought a few Samsung Galaxy S3 phones (yikes, they are expensive!) We then managed to repeat the bug, fixed it, and now there's an update available for each AI app.

Apologies go to all AI apps users. We now have better coverage over various Android devices, so hopefully this will never happen again.

As a bonus, there are new features coming to AI apps. They are not yet included to this "emergency update" released today, since we wanted to get it out as soon as properly tested.

maanantai 10. syyskuuta 2012

Teaser: introducing Fantasy Dice

Our first sensor fusion app, 3D Gyro Compass, has been quite successful: its installed base grows about 10% each day, and it has collected 500+ downloads within two weeks with very little marketing. Not bad at all.

In fact we've been so pleased that we have decided to release another treat from our sensor fusion lab: it's a simple dice rolling app and called Fantasy Dice. As usual, it's got 3D graphics created with Rightware's Kanzi framework and AHRS sensor fusion for movement tracking. However, this time we added Bullet physics engine to create realistic physics simulation! Together these three make a great combo, you'll definitely want to check it out. 

We hope to release it already this week, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, here's a small teaser for you guys...

Update: Well, that week went and there was no release... In fact we had everything ready to go, but then received messages from our beta testers of slow performance in some devices that we don't have at the lab. So we decided to postpone the release, and fix the issues first.

That was a good decision, we now have 60 FPS on many devices, and even slightly older hardware can render a few dice at 30-40 FPS. There are also other improvements, including algorithm bug fixes. The overall user experience is now significantly better.

So we are once again preparing for a release, but this time there will be no schedule given (trying to learn from past mistakes). It will be released when it is... well, ready.

tiistai 4. syyskuuta 2012

AI apps just got better!

Just a quick note: we have now added additional screen layouts (first presented in SMS AI) to Call AI, Start AI and Web AI.

Updates to existing users will be soon available via Google Play.

maanantai 3. syyskuuta 2012

SMS AI published

And here we go again: our fourth AI app, SMS AI, has just been released via Google Play! SMS AI is similar to Call AI, but observes your SMS habits instead of calls. Also, when a contact in the widget is tapped, SMS form will open (instead of contact details view).

What's best, SMS AI is completely FREE and comes without advertisements!

This widget has a new twist that is coming also to our earlier AI releases: you can now choose from 4x1, 4x2 and 2x2 widget layouts. As an example, here's more spacy 4x2 layout:

UPDATE: It is available now, get yours from

maanantai 27. elokuuta 2012

Responding to demand: SMS AI

We've received requests to create a variant of Call AI that specializes in SMS. The idea is simply to use outgoing SMS instead of outgoing calls as a criteria for selecting contacts to the widget. Also, when contact is tapped an SMS editor (to selected person) will launch, instead of contact info screen.

This has been in the works for a while, and is now approaching release status. Here's a screenshot as a teaser. Stay tuned for release announcement soon.

keskiviikko 22. elokuuta 2012

FREE 3D Gyro Compass now available

We're really proud to present Finwe Ltd.'s latest app: 3D Gyro Compass. Our sensor team has created a truly stunning compass application using state-of-the-art sensor fusion algorithm and Rightware's leading Kanzi 3D framework. It is fast, accurate, tilt-compensated and even uses physics modelling to smooth movements in rough conditions. There is simply no match for it!

While most compass apps simply use plain magnetometer signal or Google's sensor fusion algorithm, this app raises the bar to a new level: we have further developed Sebastian Madgwick's LGPL-licensed open source AHRS sensor fusion algorithm (source code available at request) to combine accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope sensor feeds in a clever way.

Our experts have 10+ year experience with sensors in mobile phones. When applied together with Kanzi tools to create fast HW accelerated 3D graphics, we managed to create this beast. To experience it with your own eyes, download it for FREE from Google Play, and share as you wish.

Get it from Google Play:

tiistai 21. elokuuta 2012

Web AI published

We are happy to announce that our AI series has now turned into a trilogy, as our third AI app has just been released via Google Play. It's called Web AI, and will soon be downloadable worldwide.

As you might guess from its name, Web AI provides a location-aware widget for quick access to your most frequently used web sites.

UPDATE: It is available now, get yours from

perjantai 17. elokuuta 2012

Sidetrack: Sensor Fusion

At Finwe Ltd. we have experts whose core competence is related to context awareness and adaptation, but also professionals who specialize in sensors, physics modelling and 3D graphics. While this blog has so far discussed mostly the former topic, we'll now take a peek to the lab next door and see what's brewing in their kettles.

Everyone's learned at school that humans have five primary senses. But did you know that the smartphone in your pocket has probably much more? Let's count...

Similar to human senses, sensors in smartphones make them more aware of the environment. For example, MEMS sensors such as accelerometer (1), magnetometer (2) and gyroscope (3) are used for movement and orientation tracking; most notably responsible for rotating the screen between portrait and landscape orientations. Light based sensors, such as front (4) and back cameras (5), proximity sensor (6), and ambient light intensity sensor (7) are pretty standard components in all smartphones and allow taking nice pictures, turning off display during phone calls, and adjusting screen brightness automatically. Some models can even sense features of the ambient environment with a temperature (8) and an air pressure sensor (9). Microphone (10) for audio input, touch panel (11) for pointing input and even short range radio networks such as NFC (12), Bluetooth (13) and WiFi (14) can be used as sensors.

That's already fourteen sensors. Yet there's more to it: you can measure multiple things with a single sensor component, or combine multiple physical sensors to work in concert to produce different kind of data. As a result, you'll get a bunch of virtual sensor channels as a bonus. With all that information pouring in, why aren't smart phones truly smart? Because its what you do with the information. A monkey can see the same thing than you can, but its still a monkey, right?

One of the most compelling topics in sensors is sensor fusion, i.e. combining input from multiple sensors to create something better. This requires quite involved math, where a tiny error completely blows the whole thing. But when it works correctly, it can do pretty amazing things. For example, sensor components are not ideal in performance and typically measure only a single physical phenomenon, such as linear acceleration or magnetic field. If movement tracking is based on data from a single sensor type, it is fairly easy to come up with movements where the illusion breaks. However, when multiple sensors work together, they can complement each other and truly make a big difference to a product.

Our specialists are preparing a free technology demo: a compass application that combines 3D accelerometer, 3D magnetometer and 3D gyroscope data to a so-called 9 DOF setup. Sensor fusion algorithms mix sensor inputs together in a clever way, and as a result, the compass is stable, accurate and responds quickly to movements in a way not possible with a single sensor. There's also fast 3D graphics and some physics modelling to give the finishing touch. The app is already developed and is absolutely state-of-the-art level quality. We will release it shortly after testing phase is finished. There's also a Youtube video in the works, as movement algorithm apps really need to be seen with own eyes before they can be appreciated. Nevertheless, here's a screenshot as a teaser.

torstai 16. elokuuta 2012

In the works: Web AI

Now that we've got our first babies out to the market, our team is already busy sketching new apps for the AI series. Here's news for you all: the next one will be "Web AI". You probably guessed it: we're applying our adaptive widget concept for web bookmarks, and also location learning will be included.

We already have a working demo, and it seems that this use case can be enabled for a wide category of devices. With today's sandboxed environments you never know whether a use case is feasible before you go through the necessary APIs and try to implement a proof-of-concept demo on a real device...

There's one tricky part, though. Unlike calls and apps, with web addresses it is common that user browses multiple pages from a single domain (for example when reading news). It's like having multiple slightly different contacts for a single person in your phone book. I think user's wouldn't appreciate it, if the widget learned four links to different news stories instead of just the landing page of the site. Hence, we need to find a good strategy for automatically picking the most meaningful URL (or part of it) from a bunch of similar ones, and only this one needs to be learned. We need a new kind of filter in front of the usual learning block. Sounds simple, but we'll see how well this can be worked out in practice.

The rumors tell that after Web AI is finished we will look into automobiles next, but I will not reveal more yet... Despite there is already work in progress, as always, feel free to share your own ideas; we're always ready to listen and discuss our favorite topic :)

maanantai 13. elokuuta 2012

First updates

Both Call AI and Start AI have been available in Google Play a couple of days now. We have not yet started any marketing campaigns, but its nice to see that users from all over the world have already found them. To be honest, we were a little bit afraid if anyone could pop into them without ads, since there are more than 500.000 other apps available - quite a small needle in a big haystack...

From Google Checkout we can view how the apps are doing in Google Play. It is easy to make one remark from this data: quite many users who install the application cancel the order within a few minutes, i.e. utilize Google's 15 minute return policy. We have been trying to guess what's going on, and hope that some of our users who have decided not to keep the app would explain their decision. Maybe we can improve our communication about what these apps are and how to use them.

As a preliminary act, we have already prepared our first updates which include instructions about placing the widget on the homescreen, and also otherwise improved the look'n feel of the welcome screen. These will become available shortly.

Start AI user Steve reported that in his case the issue was text "No license" in the widget. We are using Google's online license check system, which is recommended for paid apps. However, we have noticed that sometimes it can take a while for the phone to finish checking license status from Google's servers. Unfortunately this makes an impression that there's something wrong with the installation package, i.e. seems like it doesn't contain a proper license. It is likely that license check would be soon completed, but we will make changes to our applications to prevent this from happening again. Preventing software piracy should never deteriorate user experience of paying customers!

Versions 1.0.2 with improved welcome screen, removed unnecessary permissions, and improved usage of Google licensing system are available.

torstai 9. elokuuta 2012

Start AI has gone live!

And now also Start AI has been published via Google Play.

Just wait a few hours and it'll appear in the apps section.

UPDATE: It is available now, get yours from

Coming next: Start AI

Start AI, our sister project to Call AI, is quickly approaching release time, so its time to share a few thoughts about it.

When our scientists were developing the algorithms for location and usage learning for phone calls, they noticed that the same design principles could be applied not just for contacts but also for applications. And so the idea of Start AI was born and we decided to give it a shot. However, the implementation turned out to be almost impossible because of API issues. To really understand why, we need to take a step back and look at the overall picture of software development landscape and how it has changed.

Most software developers have started practicing programming with a computer. It has been relatively easy to get access to a PC, there's plenty of options for languages and development tools, and the user interface is good enough for prolonged usage. There's one more important thing that we tend to take for granted: computers our open. There are APIs readily available for almost everything, and it is generally understood that since you own the box, you can do whatever you want with it.

Not so with mobile phones! In the beginning they were completely closed systems based on proprietary operating systems. No APIs, no documentation, no tools available. Mostly this was due to the fact that the whole industry was still in its infancy. But within a few years of time, phone's started to contain applications such as the famous Snake game, calculator, calendar etc., and demand began to rice to open up the platform for 3rd party developers as well.

Slowly things started to change. In the mobile domain there were two important hurdles unseen during computer era: malicious apps could potentially harm communication by acting unintended ways with the mobile phone network, and extract money from end users by making calls or sending messages to numbers owned by criminals. Hence, both the network and user's money need to be protected.

Two different approaches emerged. For example Nokia, worlds largest mobile phone manufacturer by then, used Java sandbox in their cheaper feature phones, while more expensive Symbian smartphones could be programmed with C++ using a limited set of APIs. Later Symbian devices were further protected by enforced platform security model, where all software had to be signed and sensitive APIs were protected with capabilities that had to be separately requested.

In practice, Java sandbox model was very limited and could be only used for creating very simple self-contained applications (think about calculators, timers, todo lists, and games). Meanwhile, more open Symbian model allowed much more complicated designs and also programs that interact with other applications and improve the platform itself. It was not a surprise that Symbian became the platform of choice by the research community, which is always pushing the limits and trying to find novel ways to use technology. Things were going smoothly forward.

...until iPhone happened. While impressive from user interface and design point of view, feature-wise iPhone was much closer to feature phones than smartphones. Yet, its success has been overwhelming and changed the landscape for good. Fast forward a few years ahead, and you'll notice how radically things have changed: now two most popular mobile platforms, iOS and Android, push the sandbox model forward and more open Symbian is in decline. In addition, Apple and Microsoft are taking ideas from mobile domain and bringing them back to computers. Seems that sandboxing and locking things down is the new norm. This is all very, very sad from research point of view.

Back to Start AI. While Android is said to be an open system, applications still have a very limited playground. They are not supposed to know about each other, and the OS can kill and restart apps at will. Now you'll understand that it is quite difficult (if not impossible) to make applications that continuously observe device usage in the background, and adapt to each user's preferences. The kind of things that were simple with computers and accessible in Symbian smartphones, are mostly impossible on iOS and Android, at least for 3rd party developers.

We managed to make Start AI work, though. We're using a simple trick: observe Android's log. However, information that system puts to the log when apps are started is not consistent. Hence, Start AI does not work with new Android devices.

When you grow older, become more sentimental and look back and think how things used to be better, sometimes you just may have a point in there.

keskiviikko 8. elokuuta 2012

Call AI has gone live!

Just received a word that Call AI has been published via Google Play!

Currently it's being synced to Google servers worldwide, and we are expecting it to be listed in the apps section of Google Play within a few hours.

UPDATE: Google has done its hocus pocus and Call AI is downloadable from Google Play.

tiistai 7. elokuuta 2012

Preparing for publishing

Here at Finwe Ltd. good news keep coming in: we have successfully completed our internal test round for our first AI app (which will be called "Call AI"), and final graphics and marketing material for it are nearly finished. So everything's going forward smoothly and we are preparing for publishing Call AI within a few days via Google Play!

As a teaser, here's a preview of our logo and a few words about what Call AI is all about:

For a long time, communication with other people via calls and messages has been the primary use case for mobile phones. Hence, all phone models provide some kind of phone book application for managing and accessing contacts; some modern ones also have a widget for pinning a few selected contacts directly to home screen. It is also quite common to look for frequently used contacts from the recent calls list. Plus, there's a plethora of 3rd party apps for doing the same thing with different user interface variations.

Is there anything wrong with current situation? Yes, there is. Alphabetical phone book is painfully slow to browse. Static home screen widgets provide fast access, but do not adapt to temporal usage where different contacts come and go. Recent calls list supports well temporal usage, but users can't remember whether a certain contact can be (still) found from the recent calls list, so this is often a dead end and requires another look from the phone book application.

You might ask, can there be any better way? Certainly! Some phone books allow pinning selected contacts in the top part, some widgets include recent calls list -like functionality and adapt contacts based on usage. But there's still something that other solutions seem to have missed. That, my friend, is location

For years, our scientist have participated in international research projects, and collected and analyzed months of call data from dozens of users. One important finding is that when people initiate communication, there is a significant connection between user's current location and the target person. It is not surprising if you think about it. When you go to the office, you'll make calls to your colleagues and clients, perhaps to your spouse. When you're at home, you communicate with your family and friends. And so on. That's why static widget won't work, and not even a recent activity based. You need to handle location as well.

Another problem in many apps aimed for increasing productivity is that they require so much learning and configuring that more time and effort is wasted than gained. Also applies here: you don't want to spend time managing contacts, you want to use it for communicating with them. A tool that really helps need to learn by itself, automatically. No configuring.

Now we come to our first app, Call AI. It is is a new kind of contact widget, which learns your personal top contacts automatically and keeps the contacts relevant without any configuring. But the real kick is that it also learns your most important locations automatically, and keeps separate top contacts list for each relevant place. At home, you've got home contacts. At work, you've got work contacts. And so on.

Call AI uses mobile phone network cells for positioning, so you don't need to worry about battery consumption. Since all learning takes place in the phone, there is no outgoing data transfers - you're privacy is guaranteed. Moreover, we don't want to ruin an otherwise great tool with a flood of advertisements and thus have decided to make Call AI a paid application, but with very affordable price. This can be reconsidered if need arises, though.

From our user tests we have learned that it is also quite exciting to observe the learning the process. When new contacts and locations begin to appear, it's almost like magic. But the most amazing thing is the relevancy of contacts. As one of our test users put it: "This is just amazing! Whether I'm at home, work or partying, it just knows who I'd like to call. How does it do that!?"

We will post again as soon as Call AI becomes downloadable, so stay tuned. Then try it out, wait a few days and report back how it has learned YOUR locations and contacts. With your help we can fine tune the algorithms and make it even better. Also feel free to suggest improvements and new ideas for our AI app series. An exciting journey is about to begin, welcome aboard!

perjantai 29. kesäkuuta 2012

Coming out of stealth mode

At Finwe Ltd. we are excited about getting closer to publishing our first own software products. While the applications are still in their early phases, we have learned to appreciate the feedback and insight of our users, and thus wish to invite all of you to participate in the development, now that we have something concrete coming for you to try out.

In fact, we have not one but multiple applications in the pipeline that apply artificial intelligence in a very practical manner (you can see a few hints above in the page names). However, to create the ultimate user experience, WE NEED YOUR HELP! When creating applications that learn from usage and adapt, the reality is that they work differently for each user and thus traditional software testing is not enough: we must hear from our users how the algorithms work in their daily life. This is where you can really help.

Our long term wish is to establish here a community around the topic of applying AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, adaptation and context awareness to smart phones. That small box in your pocket has enormous computing capabilities, but despite of how we call them, they still have a long way to become truly smart devices. This is your opportunity to make a difference even if you're not a software professional. You are welcome to share your thoughts, ideas, wishes and critique and discuss directly with our experts and developers.

Note: We are beginning this site as a blog in order to create a good channel for announcements. However, forum or other tool can be included to encourage discussion. What do you think would be the best way to communicate? Share your ideas by commenting to this post.

Stay tuned, the first app will be released to Google Play (Android Market) sooner than you think...

About Finwe Ltd.

Finwe Ltd. is a well established, privately owned company located in Oulu, Finland. We spinned of from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in 2006 to commercialize our long term research results in the fields of context management, sensor algorithms, adaptation and artificial intelligence. The company has been profitable from day one, and our technologies are now included to millions of mobile phones around the world. Today, we employ 15 highly skilled mobile software experts and scientists, and offer consultation & software development resources for the industry leaders.