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Best of MobileHCI 2012

Best Papers

  • An investigation into the use of tactile instructions in snowboarding. Daniel Spelmezan
  • MemReflex: Adaptive Flashcards for Mobile Microlearning. Darren Edge, Stephen Fitchett, Michael Whitney, James Landay

Best Demo

  • Tilt Displays: Display Surfaces with Multi-Axis Tilt and Actuation. Jason Alexander, Andrés Lucero, Sriram Subramanian

Demo honorable mention

  • PoI Poi: Point-of-Interest Poi for Multimodal Tethered Whirling. Michael Cohen

Social Media

The official hashtag for MobileHCI2012 is #mobilehci2012 and you can follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Grounded Innovation: Strategies for Creating Digital Products


  • Lars Erik Holmquist, Yahoo Research


So, as a successful researcher, you’ve come up with your awesome mobile interface/app/service, you implemented a cracking prototype, you have done all the statistically significant user studies, and you have published the paper at Mobile HCI to much applause. Now, all you have to do is turn your idea into the next billion-dollar company, right? Well, not so fast. Turning a research result into a successful product is actually very difficult. In fact, studies of active entrepreneurs consistently show that out of all the potential sources for innovation, the one that is based on new knowledge – what comes out of a research lab – is the most unreliable and difficult to manage! It takes on average 20 years or more for a new technology to make it from a research project into the real world – and this timescale seems to hold equally well for as disparate fields as medicine, mechanics, and information technology! For instance, that archetypical user-friendly input device, the mouse, was pioneered by Stanford researchers in the 1960’s, further developed at Xerox PARC in the 1970’s, made into a successful niche product by Apple in the 1980’s, but did not reach a true mass-market until Microsoft introduced Windows – almost 40 years after the original mouse demo! So does this mean researchers should give up any hope of turning their ideas into products? Not necessarily.

To be successful, researchers need to balance invention – coming up with new ideas – and inquiry – understanding how the world works. In this tutorial, we will introduce the Grounded Innovation framework, which is an attempt to maximize these aspects in order to come up with true innovations – products or processes that get taken up and used by a community of users. It also introduces the concept of digital products, and how we can use the intrinsic qualities of such products – including information processing, interaction, networking, sensing and proactivity – to generate ideas. We will give a number of illustrative examples of how inventions have been turned into innovations. For instance, the technique of shaking objects together to connect them, invented by the presenter in 2001, is today used by Bump, a company with millions of users. In another example, early experiments with digital photography and unusual user groups is reflected in successful contemporary companies such as Instagram. We will also present methods inspired by the Grounded Innovation framework. This includes Transfer Scenarios, which combines novel and emerging technology with studies of unusual or extreme user groups, in order to drive innovation, and Bootlegging, which is a brainstorming technique designed to help multi-disciplinary groups come up with ideas together. We will also introduce several models of innovation processes, such as Verplank’s Spiral and Holmquist’s Paradigm framework, that can help researchers to understand where their work fits in with real-world technologies and markets.

The tutorial is based on the book by the same name, published in 2012 by Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. For more information, see http://groundedinnovation.net


This tutorial is intended to provide the attendees with the following:

  • General understanding of innovation processes and the role of research in creating new products
  • Overview of the unique properties of digital products, and how they can be leveraged to generate new concepts
  • Practical tools to perform grounded innovation, including user studies and idea generation
  • Detailed insight in how research can feed into innovation, based on case studies of successful as well as not so successful projects and products

Tutorial Duration: 3 Hours


The tutorial mixes lectures with hands-on exercises and discussions.

Overview of topics:

  • Understanding digital products
  • Overview of the innovation process
  • Introducing grounded innovation
  • Methods for inquiry and invention
  • Leveraging the properties of digital products
  • Future outlook – mashing it up and getting it out there


Lars Erik Holmquist leads the Mobile Innovations group at Yahoo! Labs in Santa Clara, CA. Previously, he was Professor in Media Technology at Södertörn University and manager of the Interaction Design and Innovation lab at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science. He was a co-founder and research leader at the Mobile Life Centre, a joint research venture between academia and industry hosted at Stockholm University, with major partners including Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, TeliaSonera and the City of Stockholm. He received his M.Sc. in Computer Science in 1996, his Ph.D. in Informatics in 2000, and became an Associate Professor in Applied IT in 2004, all at the University of Gothenburg. In his work he has developed many pioneering interfaces and applications in the areas of ubiquitous computing and mobile services, including location-based devices, handheld games, mobile media sharing, visualization techniques, entertainment robotics, tangible interfaces and ambient displays. All of his work has been carried out in multi-disciplinary settings, mixing technology, design and user studies, often in close collaboration with industrial stakeholders.