Yahoo, Intel build on-campus labs to understand users

Big tech companies go where the Internet users are - college - to understand how people interact with technology - and to cherry-pick the best new engineering talent.

Where do the movers and shakers of high tech go to find inspiration and test out new software? They set up research centers where people are the most willing to try something new—university campuses, reports the French News Agency AFP.

The likes of Yahoo and Intel have labs at the University of California-Berkeley, and computer chip maker Intel has ties with Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, and at University of Chile in Santiago.

"We as an industry are reaching that typical career path and we are now blowing up the pipeline approach to find the talent," said Yahoo vice president Bradley Horowitz, who helped found the Yahoo lab at Berkeley. "It may be that reaching into a university gives us the ability to tap into talent."

Since innovation in high-tech ultimately gets the thumbs up or down in the market, why not try out the software on student guinea pigs?

"We're interested in where technology meets people,"said Ryan Shaw, 30, a Berkeley student working as a social media intern at the Yahoo lab.

"So part of the research here depends on not just developing technologies in the lab but observing how people are using them; it's not the endpoint of the research, but the beginning."

Shaw explained how projects he's been working on benefit from the collaboration between big Internet companies and universities. They can test their innovations while working with Yahoo engineers which can be tested on an online search engine.

"Working with things like video on the Internet requires a lot of equipment and infrastructure. No university has that; not like the big Internet companies have."