Research Software Engineers support research using MAGICS equipment – a case study

When Talayeh Aledavood heard of MAGICS, she immediately knew what to do. In her research, she studies human behavioral patterns, and MAGICS could provide the equipment and expertise that were missing in order to do her next study on the effects of the Covid-19 restrictions on people’s daily routines and well-being, especially during the transition from remote work to hybrid work.

MAGICS provides digital research infrastructure services to study the various physical responses of people. By using fitness trackers and monthly surveys of the current working mode, Aledavood could get very high-quality data showing the slow process of finding a new normal. She had wanted to do a study such as this since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic began, and MAGICS provided the required equipment.

However, few devices directly produce data in an optimal form for analysis. The chosen devices, Polar fitness trackers, have a good consumer dashboard, but some extra tools are needed to extract this data and manage the study overall. Aledavood’s past projects have been done with a collaborator who could provide this service, but they were no longer available. The Aalto Research Software Engineer (RSE) service came to the rescue. This service is exactly designed to bridge research with the computing, data, or software resources needed to accomplish their project. The Research Software Engineer, Jarno Rantaharju, designed and built a combined registration management system and data system that can enroll people, authorize the study on the subject’s Polar Dashboard account, and pull the data from the dashboard into the research database. Privacy and ethical design were greatly improved by professional support.

The Research Software Engineer project could equally be used to enable other projects. Anyone with an idea that requires custom software or service development can combine the MAGICS and RSE services and feel no hesitation to propose a project.

Equipment in MAGICS are available to anyone at Aalto University through and other members of the MAGICS consortium in Tampere University and the University of the Arts through Currently, the RSE service is part of Aalto Scientific Computing (Science-IT), but has pilot scaling funding from Aalto IT Services in addition to primary funding by the School of Science, and is thus available to everyone in Aalto.



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