Designing for ubiquity-mobile apps for social innovation

May 14, 2010 at 7:03 am 2 comments

Figure 1-2-3: Environmental education concept by student Betsy Sherertz, GD, NC State

“In 2008, over half the people in the world (3.6 billion of 6 billion) accessed networked information via a mobile phone. Compared with 1.6 billion people logging on via desktop computers, Mobile is arguably the new mass medium. It encompasses all other forms of media—print, recording, cinema, radio, television, and the Internet. Additionally, it responds to a person’s context, providing feedback where and when it is relevant” A. Howard [Go to source]

During 2010, my colleague Amber Howard, great interaction designer, PhD student and instructor at NC State; directed the GD course Design for Mobile Interaction. Yet, this seems more than a simple course, it is an initiative that entails the great potential that mobile apps have for providing a platform to engage “social issues”. This might be in areas as sensible as health or as education. Big social actors like the Red Cross already launched an app to expand their donation strategy. South America, and particularly Chile, have a great penetration of mobile devices [In Chile on 2009, they were estimated to be around 16,7 million devices]. We need to acknowledge that this is a platform that has a lot more potential than the one we’ve explored.

With the participation of a professional team from TMobile , and some contributions of Adobe professionals, students go through the iterative design thinking and hands-on process of  designing mobile apps for engaging complexity.They used rapid approaches of qualitative research [somewhat similar to Rapid Appraisal], wireframes, paper prototypes for testing, scenarios, personas and other interaction design tools in order to create their proposed solutions. One example you can find in the open source website [with the documentation of each of the student’s process] , is the work of Betsy Sherertz. She develops an APP that, through game, reward and in connection with the scholar platform, teaches concepts of recycling to school students.

The potential for using mobile apps for other enterprises that are not pure entertainment seem to be huge. This great project, framed within a course, shows the principles for designing good intentions that work.

More about the course: Click Here
More about Amber Howard: Click Here
More about Betsy Sherertz: Click Here


Entry filed under: Educacion, Interaction, Social Design.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pablo F  |  May 26, 2010 at 7:43 am

    But we should think not just in smartphones, but regular cell phones. It is true that smartphones (PDA, Blackberries and Iphone) are more interactive and allow you to do a lot of things. However, they are way more expensive than a regular cellphone and sometimes not easy to use.
    In many developing and underdeveloped countries, cellphones are being use to introduce banking, spread news or as a
    Several providers are developing text messaging services to deliver HIV/AIDS health management services (medication regimens, appointments, advice/consultation, and even an information booklet on HIV/AIDS that can be downloaded onto the cellphone.

  • […] for their academic training? Amber Howard, PhD candidate and instructor at NCSU [previous posts on teaching Mobile Technologies] College of Design has been taking students through what was her own writing process for the […]


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contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
Creative Commons License
Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

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