Call for Student Design Competition

How might we envision and employ mobile computing to strengthen close-knit communities (social bubbles)?

In the MobileHCI student design competition (SDC), teams of students from various levels of academic backgrounds (Bachelors, Masters, and PhDs) and from various regions in the world explore needs, ideate, and develop concepts for mobile computing and demonstrate them to the MobileHCI conference attendees.

Important Dates

Deadline Date
Submission Deadline August 18th, 2021
Notification August 20th, 2021
Camera-ready August 27th, 2021

The Student Design Competition

The competition has two primary goals:

  • To provide students with an opportunity to submit a team-based design project for an international audience within Mobile HCI.
  • To engage students from diverse backgrounds, including technical, design, and/or social science, with mobile computing and HCI.

The Design Challenge and Context

Building on this year’s conference theme of Mobile Apart, Mobile Together, your challenge is to think about how mobile computing can support close-knit communities (or social bubbles), and develop concepts that maintain the bonds in these communities, whilst also encouraging and enabling them to extend their reach to broader social or physical communities. The context of close-knit communities includes but is not limited to groups of friends, family, coworkers, fellow students, and other types of smaller groups.

We encourage a liberal interpretation of mobile computing and interaction design, with submitted designs building upon existing digital and physical tools and platforms and/or developing new concepts for future technologies. Platforms might include, but are not limited to, IoT devices, smartphones, wearables, interactive glasses, furniture, wheelchairs, or bicycles.

We welcome, but do not expect, teams to complete working prototypes. However, we do expect submissions to communicate a nuanced understanding of user needs through narrative storytelling that demonstrates how your MobileHCI ideas benefit these communities. This approach is meant to orient teams toward concepts, ideas, and their consequences, with less emphasis on specific designed artifacts.

Competition Format

The 2021 MobileHCI SDC will progress in two stages: submission and presentation.


  • A video, with maximum duration of 2–3 minutes (be creative).
  • A paper, with maximum length of 6 pages, with at least 4 references. Teams whose submissions are accepted for presentation at the conference will have the option to include their paper in the 2021 MobileHCI Adjunct Proceedings.

Submission videos should communicate what the proposed idea does for people. Solutions are fine, but try to avoid solution-fixation. Try to use the video format creatively: instead of presenting specific interaction alternatives or design features using voice-over, demonstrating the impact of your design—how it transforms the everyday experiences of those around it (a slice of life)—might give a stronger voice to the concept. You have many alternatives to style your video. For example, a video prototype of a scenario that acts out the concept and its effects, a tiktok, an instagram reel or story, a news report, or another current format used to build and communicate narratives.

The options are many and it is up to you to decide what style and format that (a) leverages the existing strengths of your team, and (b) helps you develop and exercise new skills.


The short paper should introduce your problem context, present and justify your idea, include at least 4 references to prior research or news articles, and be up to 6 pages in length. Organize the paper as you prefer and use the space creatively. One approach, for example, might answer: (a) what is the problem and who has it, (b) are there any current solutions, good or bad, (c) what is your idea, and (d) how do you envision your idea integrating into peoples’ lives some time from now?

How to submit

Please email your submissions, as video and file attachments or as a link to them, to the SDC Chairs at


The online competition is open to any student(s) irrespective of their location, access to specific resources, or travel constraints. Please form teams of no more than 5 members. If your team has a reason to exceed this number, please check with the SDC Chairs first.

Finding and building distributed teams can be a challenge, so we suggest students form teams around their existing communities or partners on planned or recently completed projects.


Submissions are not anonymous and should include your team members’ names, affiliations, and a team/project name.


There is no fee to submit to the competition, although at least one member of each team must register for and attend the MobileHCI 2021 conference in order to present. However, there will be some free registrations available (see Prizes below).


Up to 10 teams will present their submissions live at the SDC session during the conference. We will add details about the presentation format after the submission deadline.


We are still determining the final form of judging, but it will likely include some combination of a jury comprising experts in MobileHCI and voting from conference attendees.


Up to 10 teams will be selected to receive at least one free registration each for the conference (value about €100 per team). We are working to offer a small cash prize to winning teams.

Student Design Competition Chairs

Portrait of David Sirkin

David Sirkin
Stanford University, USA

Lone Koefoed Hansen

Lone Koefoed Hansen
Aarhus University, Denmark