Mobile Tech Research Initiative

Pushing the Envelope in Mobile Media and Iterative Design

Project Video:


The Mobile Tech Research Initiative (MTRI) was a special summer program that taught students in The Creative Media and Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver to produce cutting edge environments in mobile media. MTRI focused on the imagination, conceptualization, and production of smartphone app technology, spanning both front-end design to back-end development.

MTRI Research Question:

How do you create a mobile app that delivers the cutting-edge capabilities of app technology as well as traditional concepts like usability, interactive design and aesthetics?

MTRI Goals:

-Develop a local body of expertise in the emerging technology field of mobile application design and development
-Contribute actively to undergraduate research, an important mission of WSU Vancouver
-Promote Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) education from kindergarten through college by fostering local synergies among the digital media, science and business communities

The culmination of the MTRI program was a smartphone app for the iPhone, called “Dick Hannah Customer Care,” developed for Dick Hannah Dealerships, a leading car dealer in the Pacific Northwest. The app allows customers of Dick Hannah Dealerships to schedule maintenance for their cars, call for roadside help, and easily contact the dealership. It also provides a convenient way for vehicle owners to keep track of vehicle-related information and an interactive way for users to schedule service appointments quickly for their cars.


The underlining research and development undertaken by the team yielded innovations to mobile app production, including:

- Implementing the camera function, building local storage for the image, and anticipating the possibility of a default image if the user does not choose to use it
- Scripting dynamic storage functions to provide multiple car profiles
- Researching ideograms to best represent the myriad service options that are available
- Executing multiple functions that work in concert while testing to insure functionality between elements
- Unifying language and design principles across the project sections

Version 1.0 was created for iPhone and version 1.3 is currently in the App Store. The Android version 1.0 just entered the Play Store.
Version 2.0 will integrate with the client’s database system to provide more features.