San Diego’s Qualcomm Embraces Experiment in Incentive Prizes

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taking place with 3-D mobile displays and gaming. He described the all-day codefest “as a mix of a hackathon and [technology] training session,” and said it was a “really useful” session.

Stoner is a post-doctoral fellow who has spent the past three years working with Eric Courchesne and Karen Pierce at the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence. His app was based on a simple test that plays two videos at the same time—one of geometric patterns and the other of kids engaged in social activities—and uses the eye-tracking technology to determine which one an infant watches more. Certain autistic children respond more to the geometric patterns.

Stoner said results of the test are reproducible, but he doesn’t have any plans to commercialize the mobile app he developed—mostly because his research at UCSD is focused in other areas of mobile health and health care informatics.

Nevertheless, Stoner said incentive prize competitions offer a chance for a “no-name startup” to win worldwide fame, and perhaps even get a jump on technology rivals with better-known teams and a better pipeline to venture capital funding.

He credits the X Prize Foundation for its pioneering groundwork in using substantial prizes to induce innovation in specific areas of technology. Stoner also said he sees more value in competitions that promote open innovation—such as the Tricorder X Prize—that “get people to work together to solve problems affecting an entire industry.” In contrast, he says there are a lot of crowd-sourcing contests offered by some websites that are closed-systems—and “where the only person who benefits is the one who pays for the solution.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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