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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

November - 2012 - issue > In Conversation

Aligning Academic and Industry Research

Lars Erik Holmquist
Principal Research Scientist-Yahoo! Labs
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Lars Erik Holmquist
Lars Erik Holmquist is the Principal Research Scientist at Yahoo! Labs and heads the Mobile Innovations group. Yahoo! Labs is a division of Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) responsible for research into the science of the Internet and creating the next generation of businesses for the company. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, Yahoo! Labs delivers both fundamental and applied scientific leadership, publish research and create new technologies that power Yahoo!’s products. Prior to joining Yahoo! Lars was a professor in Media Technology at Södertörn University and 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. In a candid conversation with Lars, he opens up about various researches and how it helps Yahoo! build products for the masses.

Current Initiatives for innovation at Yahoo labs:

Mobile users are doubling every year. It is not a stationary device and follows you wherever you go. My current focus at Yahoo! is to see how we can take advantage of the different situations that users go through on a daily basis, like locations, their company (who they are with), and what they are doing. Our area of focus is to device ways to leverage all this mobile data and users that Yahoo! is gathering. We must be able to shift and create an experience for users that goes across all screens from the desktop to the tablet to the mobile. Yahoo! has over 700 million users and we have witnessed them shift to the mobile at a very fast pace. We are at a point where we can start leveraging all the data that we get from mobile and help users get new experiences.

Aligning academic and industry research:

Yahoo! Labs is one of the few labs which fall between academic research and the product R&D. At Yahoo! we can have a theoretical result that will be published at an academic conference but the result might also be taken to the product leaders who could turn it into a million dollar product. A middle path between academic and industry research helps a company because it can help map out the future. It can help companies understand where users are at present and where the shift will be in a few years.
In case of research we consider the consequences of scaling. When a million people begin to use a new service, a different behavioral set comes up. We can build applications around this behavior set. A lot of research has been done in the field of mobile. For instance, research on location based services is very relevant to how we design services today. Such research can aid young startups who build small scale social apps. They have no idea about all the research that has been done before that and for the same reason their products are not very good. So while you are building a product, if you go back to see all the research that has been done, you can apply that to your product.

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