Spring 2015
05-899 and 05-499

T/Th 4:30-6:20pm
Room 172 (300 S. Craig)
Jim Morris
james.morris at

Steven Dow
spdow at

In this course, students learn tools and processes for innovating mobile information services to solve problems involving the interaction between humans and technology. Students will learn about issues of mobility and value-creation in the service sector. Throughout the semester, students will work with an interdisciplinary team to understand unmet user needs and frame a problem, to generate diverse concepts, to mock-up and compare alternatives, to prototype a mobile service concept, and to assess its technical feasibility, financial viability, and desirability. Ultimately, student teams will choose a mobile service concept and produce a plan with a business model and a video sketch suitable for launching a crowdfunding campaign. To inform the innovation process, students will learn new techniques for leveraging social media and crowdsourcing to discover users' needs and to obtain feedback on preliminary concepts. Through selected readings, this course aims to provide a foundation on ubiquitous computing, service design, business modelling, creativity methods, crowdsourcing, and crowdfunding.

1) Cultivate a "design thinking" attitude. Students will learn how to adopt an attitude of trial and error. How to be a lean startup. How to alternate between exploration and focus. How to reframe problems and explore/refine design solutions. Students will learn to conduct productive design critiques and interviews with potential stakeholders.

2) Leverage the internet for research, ideation, and feedback. Students will learn how to use Web-based resources — including online collections, Web analytics, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and social media — to inform and drive an innovation process. How to collect feedback online. How to conduct an A-B test.

3) Discover and articulate value in the mobile service market. Students will learn about the emerging market for location-based, just in time, context aware, and highly social applications. They will learn how to assess and communicate value proposition. How to conduct a competitive analysis. How to visually represent a service design that comprises people and computers. How to pitch your idea through writing, oral-visual presentation, and video.

Course Topics
  • Mobile information services
  • Value proposition, business models
  • Needfinding, interviewing, analyzing social media
  • Divergent thinking, brainstorming, generating alternatives
  • Synthesis techniques and problem framing
  • Storytelling, storyboarding, and video production
  • Prototyping/blueprinting for mobile services
  • Crowdsourcing, web analytics, A-B testing

Projects from prior years
     UrbanBite is an online marketplace for homemade food that allows urbanites to buy home cooked meals and sell their own dishes to others.
Kickstarter, Prototype, All deliverables
     VICI is a social mobile app that offers themed scavenger hunts in multiple locations and allows users to explore and learn about their cities.
Kickstarter, Prototype, All deliverables
     Spotter is an app that helps drivers easily find parking spots by providing information on public parking spot availability and letting users rent out their personal parking spots.
Kickstarter, Prototype, All deliverables
     HUE is an e-commerce service that provides a seamless shopping with multiple brands and allows shoppers to create and visualize outfits with different looks.
Kickstarter, Prototype, All deliverables
     SmartPark+ allows people to pay for parking through their mobile phone. It works by scanning a QR code that would automatically pair their car to the spot until they returned. ...more
     Get a low-cost data plan for your visit to the US. No advance planning, pick it up at the baggage claim. Return it from any airport. ...more
     Get the best deal on the street right now. Keep your restaurant or shop full with just-in-time, just-enough discounts. ...more
     SportUp has two main functions: polling and betting. The user purchases a team's season that he wishes to follow and participate in polls and bets happening throughout the game. ...more
     Rwanda Headlines provides news items to cell phone users in a place where newspapers are expensive and television rare. ...more
     Family book provides a photo-sharing app specialized for sharing family pictures and creating summary books for special occasions. ...more
     A service designed to help disabled voters learn about voting locations and to arrange carpools on voting day. ...more
     A website service and certification board to help consumers identify restaurants that responsibly recycle their food waste. ...more

Instructor bios
Jim Morris is professor of Computer Science and HCI. He was a co-discoverer of the Knuth-Morris-Pratt string searching algorithm. For ten years he worked the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center where he was part of the team that developed the Alto System, a precursor to today’s personal computers. He directed the project that developed Andrew. He served as department head, then dean in the School of Computer Science. He held the Herbert A. Simon Professorship of Human Computer Interaction. He was the dean of the Silicon Valley campus from 2004 to 2009. He is a founder of the MAYA Design Group, a consulting firm specializing in interactive product design. He also founded the Human Computer Interaction Institute, Robot Hall of Fame, and Silicon Valley Campus.

Steven Dow is an Assistant Professor of HCI where he researches human-computer interaction, social computing, design education, and prototyping. He is co-recipient of two National Science Foundation grants, Stanford's Postdoctoral Research Award, and the Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research Grant. He received an MS and PhD in Human-Centered Computing from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from University of Iowa.

John Zimmerman is interaction designer and researcher with a joint appointment at the HCI Institute and at the School of Design. His research focuses include: (i) social computing and the design of public services; (ii) the application of product attachment theory in the design of intelligent products and services; and (iii) mixed-initiative computing that combines human and machine intelligence. John is one of the principle researchers on the Tiramisu project: a mobile service that allows transit riders to crowd-source real-time arrival information by sharing GPS traces with their mobile phones.