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Nokia Bell Labs: Digital storytelling facilitates resilient critical systems

The digitalisation of safety critical systems, such as medical devices, aviation, or transportation equipment, requires absolute trust that everything functions as it should. We worked with Nokia Bell Labs to increase understanding of the potential of trusted computing. Together with the client’s team, we used design fiction to create a series of compelling stories dealing with use cases in a variety of industries.

The challenge

Nokia Bell Labs approached us to create a more compelling narrative for their research and work with trusted computing technology, which has a potential to disrupt areas like remote medicine, transportation, and remote surveillance. They wanted us to work on how to demonstrate the value of the technology to different audiences in different domains.

Trusted computing is a term for establishing the identity and integrity of a system – everything from single devices to larger structures, such as a data cloud. It is used to enable trust and security in networks of connected devices. As we continue to transition to 5G – and soon 6G – networks, the amount of IoT devices connected to the network will continue to grow and it will no longer be possible to rely on perimeter security to ensure the safety of a system. Trusted computing allows devices to freely join and leave 5G networks while maintaining that trust between devices.


  • Successfully using storytelling design to demonstrate the use and impact of emerging trust technologies.

  • Exploring and designing futuristic, yet great-to-use/functional UIs and dashboards.

  • Developing new embedded emerging tech device prototypes and software.

What we did

We started with a deep dive into the technology itself and its core components. We understood that a lot of complexity is involved that we need to translate into functional UIs and understandable stories. The key challenge was explaining the value and impact of trusted computing and the relevant terminology to a wider audience without getting too technical.

Because the impact of trusted computing lies in the future, we decided to use a method called design fiction. Together with the Bell Labs team, we created narratives that use fictional stories to contextualise the technology. We started with real-life situations and used different visions of the future to bring the technology to the context of how we might live five years from now.

Based on the resulting narratives, we designed and developed a functional UI to support the story visually and interactively, and created visuals the Bell Labs Cybersecurity research team specialists used when presenting and discussing the solution with different stakeholders and audiences.

After the need to demonstrate the potential to an even wider audience surfaced, we continued our collaboration with Bell Labs in 2020 and 2021. Together with the cybersecurity team, we co-created new, compelling stories that emphasized the role of trusted computing technology as an enabler. We developed a relatable narrative for each of the selected trusted computing contexts: remote medical, rail transport and aviation. The narratives explain why the technology is important and relevant in the future and establish a connection between current demos and the future application of the technology in various contexts.

We helped develop working technology, including embedded prototypes and software, to support the storytelling. To illustrate the future of remote medicine, for example, we created a story where a patient has a remote doctor's appointment, assisted by a nurse in a machine-aided examination. The doctor, hundreds of kilometres away, can be certain that the remote sensor data is correct, and can configure and calibrate the system as needed. We built some sensors and IoT devices to use with a live “patient” (one of our Futurice team members!) to demonstrate how trusted computing works in practice.

We turned the stories into scripts and storyboards, which we then used as a basis for filming content for demo videos. These scripts and video materials are used when Bell Labs experts discuss the concepts with different stakeholders.

Why it matters

The digitalisation of critical systems – such as medical devices, aviation or transportation equipment – requires absolute trust that everything works as it should. There is no room for error. As IoT and interdependent networks become more complex and support an increasing amount of mission and safety-critical applications and tasks, being able to trust the components and services within those networks is absolutely essential.

Trusted computing solutions can be leveraged in multiple industries. This way of increasing trust and security is a disruptive technology and demonstrating the benefits via use cases can accelerate its implementation. Communicating it to different audiences in a clear and understandable way is required to facilitate and expand collaboration with key stakeholders.

About Nokia

At Nokia, we create technology that helps the world act together.

As a trusted partner for critical networks, we are committed to innovation and technology leadership across mobile, fixed and cloud networks. We create value with intellectual property and long-term research, led by the award-winning Nokia Bell Labs.

Adhering to the highest standards of integrity and security, we help build the capabilities needed for a more productive, sustainable and inclusive world.

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