mTurk for research — readings



  • Berkeley Human Subjects guidance on MTurk.  It is not necessarily anonymous.
  • A web site intended to take care of MTurk setup for you. Specifically for userfeedback. See flow chart.
  • A crowd site for MTurk users.  How to Publish a Survey on Mechanical Turk 
  • Academic articles

  • An Analysis of the Use of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for Survey Research in the Cloud

  • Academic working paper.

    Comparing the Reliability of Amazon Mechanical Turk and Survey Monkey to Traditional Market Research Surveys.




Full set of ideas

Siying Ren

1, Service: Studying Aboard Online Service.  Creating an online service to gather different schools’ application information and process and let schools’ administrative to post and communicate with students directly.  There have thousands of intermediary agencies around China and the range of costs from 2000 dollars to 20000 dollars.

2, App: Virtual try on clothes Virtual try on clothes machine is used through connecting with the phone app and can set up in each residence community and help them to make decision whether cloth is good on her.  Ecommerce services develop dramatically, and many consumers buy shoes and clothes online. Note: lots of efforts are underway, but I’m sure it can be done better.

3, App: Online infant’s used staffs exchange. A app to help family to sell used product and buy used product. Let’s make good staffs recycle.  Infant markets are really strong, and parents buy a lot of good and expensive staffs, but kids are growing.

5, Service: After-school center. A center to hire high school students or college students to help small kids to finish homework or help family to take care of school after school. Small kids need a professional and reliable people to help finishing homework. And Parents might have time conflicts to pick up kids on time.

From: Julian Haddad

CC: Ray Kurzweii, Jeff Bezos

1) A healthily branded granola bar that integrates Mediterranean sweet themes in its taste. This is an example of expanding a geographically isolated innovation, as rosewater infusion is beloved by Westerners when they eat Baklava, but has not been expanded to a non-perishable snack one could purchase at a gas station (for example).

2) Royalty-free music composition software that allows users to input their own options on getting the music. I am very familiar with how one might work with DAW software to do this / the requisite music theory but have a lot of questions about how this might be realized through independent software.

3) STREET ADDRESS, CITY, ST ZIP CODE T TELEPHONE U WEBSITE 3) In-car entertainment for self-driving cars: getting in to the market of entertaining folks while they’re in their self-driving cars early, whether it is through developing the tech to watch television on a screen from inside the car or something else.

4) Better PDF editing software. Everything on the market is TERRIBLE.

From:   Brian Noveck

  • We face a confirmation bias in the news we digest, particularly in opinion pieces. In order to raise awareness in opposing view, I’m proposing a news aggregator that would couple highly cited, or viewed, opposing positions on issues. This would pull relevant articles on timely and related key issues to shed light on alternative views.
  • Street parking can prove to be a hassle with little indication as to where/when you can find available spots. I propose a street parking platform that allows for users to identify, bid on, and accept soon to be available parking spaces. Parked vehicles identify the location and time of departure with the incentive to receive a bid on the spot once vacated. Users looking for a space would bid on soon to be vacant spaces based on personal need.
  • With a growth in the awareness of sustainability issues, I propose a restaurant sustainability ranking service that engages in consulting, ranking, and publicizing a restaurant, or restaurant group’s, commitment to sustainability.
  • A reusable coffee mug infrastructure (on-street, or in-store stations) that returns a 10-25 cent deposit on coffee mugs. Deposits are included in the price of coffee at participating retailers and collected mugs are distributed for recycling.

FROM: Preeti Syal

The purpose of this memo is to submit ideas for opportunities that aim at product creation or new service provision or service enhancement. I have tried to categorize the ideas into the three types of opportunities (Reference:  Terwiesch and Ulrich, 2009). Here’s the list :

  • Horizon 1 Opportunities (Improvements, Extensions, Variants and Cost Reductions) :
    • Web plugin for vacation planning. When you book a hotel/flight to a destination, the plugin automatically tells you the following :
      • Packing List 
      • Transportation Options
      • If renting a car, parking around/inside hotel
    • Everyday Life Carbon Foot-print calculator
      • Take a picture/scan a barcode and the calculator tells you the carbon footprint of the product/item customized for you
      • Instead of metric ton, uses visual equivalents of multiples of the same product to tell you how much carbon exactly
      • Provides customized recommendations on how to reduce your carbon footprint based on that data
  • Horizon 2 Opportunities (Next Generation Products and Services for Core Markets)
    • Rebuilding Communities after a Natural Disaster : Supply Chain Philanthropy
      • Web-Based Service for companies to identify if a disaster-hit community is a part of their supply chain
      • Provide customized recommendations, facilitate collaborations for faster on-ground contribution in employing people of affected communities
  • Horizon 3 Opportunities (Exploration with new solutions, approaches)
    • Free Cellular network using Software Defined Radios
      • Emergency Communication System
      • Educational Kit for kids
      • Communication during music festivals or camping trips
I think all of these ideas can be implemented as a project. I have expertise in building Horizon 3 proposal above for educational purposes. The rest of the ideas are mostly proposals and I have not worked on them in their entirety.

From: Adam Rosenberg

  1. Memeshirts: The internet’s most popular memes plastered on T-shirts.
  2. Likeme: A picture ranking app that is localized for specific community (like a college campus). Kind of like Reddit but localized and for pictures.
  3. A service that allows you to buy foreign currency online, then pick it up once you are in that country. Great for traveling.
  4. Customizable luggage with interchangeable compartments. One piece of luggage can be customized and/or changed depending on what you want. Or just customizable luggage.
  5. Beauty salons for men: basically beauty salons with masculine designs.

Other ideas = dropped by arbitrary faculty decision

  • A wireless computer mouse that utilizes kinetic energy (wheels on its bottom) for its power supply.
  • 5) (future) A subscription service to a fleet of self-driving vehicles.
  •  CSR + Travel : Provide customized travel packages to companies that lets them be a part of a philanthropic project in a less-developed country
    • As a guest hosted by communities
    • Sample Projects : Solar Microgrid/bio-gas plant/reverse osmosis water plant etc
    • Company funds the project and employees can bear travel costs etc
  • 4, Product: Calorie intake monitor. A tangible calorie intake monitor can give people healthy eating habits.  There has a lot of apps to help people to enter food manually and calculate calories intake, but no a product to automatically calculate what people eat every day. Note from faculty. This is a wonderful idea, but many companies have been trying to accomplish it. The fact that nobody has succeeded suggests that it is technically still very difficult. So unless one of us has a technical idea that could make a difference, I am taking it off the list. RB. PS. Everyone should have at least one impossible idea! Otherwise you are being too cautious.


Assignments for week 2 April 9-11

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There are 2 agendas for the week – get a tentative project defined, and discuss teams

  1. Read the chapter handed out in class on “Identifying Opportunities”.
  2. Start dreaming/writing ideas of possible:  services / unmet needs/ products (all of those ways of framing the problem can be useful). Use the chapter’s methodologies to help you get creative, varied, and potentially good suggestions
    1. Send an email to , subject includes hashtag #ucsdstartup as always. List at least 5, with a one sentence or picture description. You may add a second sentence “why this might be a good project for the course” e.g. that you have personal knowledge of the problem domain. Submit by 4pm on Monday.
    2. Submit assignments in memorandum format. At the bottom of this page, I have summarized my views on how to convey information efficiently.
    3. We will discuss these in class. Remember that for assignments like this you should always provide some high variance ideas.
  3. Sketch an answer to Paul’s question: “You wake up in 2050 (or some other distant year). What is your day like?”


On teams: We will give you a link to an interactive exercise on team building. For Wednesday.

Other information: We will shortly redo this web site to create a bulletin board. It’s experimental.

Solving a 200 yr old problem

No more broken umbrellas?

via The Dutch have invented a ‘stormproof umbrella’

Startups don’t have to be complicated. Here is an example, from Holland.

After analyzing dozens of broken umbrellas he’d collected from trash bins after rain storms, Hoogendoorn had an epiphany:

With little more than some glue and his grandmother’s sewing machine, an early prototype of the Senz umbrella was born.

Nine days after going on sale… already sold 10,000 umbrellas, running out of stock completely.


Start-up Workshop: Course Introduction

GPGN 490, Start-up Workshop, Spring 2018


This course is a practical introduction to engineering new enterprises. The course will be hands-on but driven by the latest thinking in innovation and entrepreneurship research, as well as the decades of practical experience of the instructors. It is a creative program for creating companies by synthesizing multi-discipline  expertise in a team-focused setting.

In this course, students create a new company, from idea generation to market test. Other steps include:

  • Generating ideas
  • Interviewing potential customers
  • Building a web site
  • Buying ads on Google or elsewhere.
  • Registering a company

The course is taught by three instructors: a VC, an entrepreneur, and an academic.


General Principles

  • Creativity, not Prescription
  • Synthesis, not Silos
  • Teams, not Individuals
  • Practical, not Theoretical