The Mobile 15: Our picks for the most innovative companies

Chaotic Moon Studios

CEO: Ben Lamm

Employees: 40

The business:

Chaotic Moon Studios is a mobile development shop that wants to take computing beyond mobile phones and tablets and use mobility and compute power to change the way the world interacts with technology.

The backstory:

Chaotic Moon studios was founded in March of 2010 by three guys hoping to be at the forefront of the adoption of mobile apps and technology.  The bootstrapped company has a mobile app development business but also a lab where it nurtures some of its more outlandish projects. They include  exploring the role of automobiles in a world where self-driving cars becomes the norm and making connected clothing that’s comfortable and washable (it involves conductive thread and a specialized Arduino board called the Lilypad.)

The innovation:

Building mobile apps is hardly innovative, but the company is good at it. Good enough to make apps for Sesame Street and Betty Crocker. But the real innovation is hidden in the worldview of the founders and in its labs, where  3-D printers whir, and co-founder William Hurley has built a skateboard that moves based on the rider’s mental commands and a shopping cart that follows the shopper around the store rather than get pushed.

For Chaotic Moon, mobile is the starting point but also the end goal for its belief in so-called pervasive computing. So that means it makes a lot of cool stuff for clients such as Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Fox, but has even more off-the-wall ideas like robot baristas that will use predictive algorithms to deliver the right coffee at the right time. The team understands that mobile computing is more than just smartphones. And it knows how to turn its futuristic visions into reality, either by assembling off-the-shelf hardware and software or partnering with other companies.

The plan:

Despite the hacker-ethos there is a serious business here. Chaotic Moon says sales are up 500 percent year over year since its launch in March 2010. The company will continue to make apps for clients and mobile games, while pushing the envelope with technology.

—Stacey Higginbotham