The Doctoral College
Starting in 2022, doc.hci, a doctoral college in Human-Computer Interaction offered by Paris-Lodron University Salzburg and Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, will host 5 excellent students to study the complex interdependencies of humans and digital technologies.
The programme is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and will start in October 2022. It will consist of courses such as formal PhD seminars, doctoral college weeks and courses, as well as informal PhD clubs. PhDs will be supervised by a supervision team of both institutions (PLUS and FHS).
All PhD projects will contribute to three overarching research questions that provide a shared theoretical and methodological framing:
- Theory: How can we conceptualise the relations between humans and digital technologies within a socio-material world to account for the complexities of their interwoven interdependencies?
- Methodology: How can we design desired technological futures and future interaction materials within these interwoven realities in which we shape technology that shapes us in return?
- Evaluation: How can we holistically assess the impact of digital technology on humans, society and our environment with a view on responsibility and sustainability?
While the five individual PhD projects, as detailed below, are diverse in nature, they each contribute to the above questions, grounding them in specific, real-world fields of action in which such complex relations between humans and technology are being explored.
The following five PhD topics are the basis of the individual research endeavours and will be tailored to individual backgrounds, experiences, and research interests.
Context & Motivation: Today’s mobile devices allow people to stay connected, easily access digital data and get assistance in different contexts (e.g., transit, sport). This is supported by a plethora of sensor data and, with the emergence of 5G infrastructure, real-time generation and interaction with remote data becomes possible. Augmented Reality (AR) has the potential to leverage new forms of such interaction with this abundance of data in a meaningful and situated way. AR offers interaction that seamlessly and unobtrusively integrates, for instance, individual data about a user (e.g., travel destinations, health conditions), or environmental data (e.g., traffic, climate), into to the real world, creating hybrid spaces without disconnect from the physical space or current activities. The goal of this PhD thesis is to envision such meaningful approaches that are blended into lifeworlds of people on the go. It aims to create unobtrusive data visualisations that avoid interference with the daily life of users– unless it is data that requires the user to interact with (e.g., being sensible data, indicating risks, etc.). In that moment, the unobtrusive data become obtrusive, creating frictions that urge the user to engage with. This requires individualised representations with options for user appropriation by enabling design-after-design, which avoid disparities between virtual and real.
Research Questions & Objectives: The objective of this PhD project is to leverage users data to create meaningful, (un-)obtrusive visualizations that are able become unobtrusive part of the user’s surrounding world (e.g. following a virtual butterfly for navigation). Addressed research questions are: (1) What comprises meaningful and context-relevant data for users? (2) What are meaningful data visualisations using AR in mobile context? (3) What data can, through AR, be unobtrusively integrated into the user’s lifeworks, what data needs to create frictions to gain the user’s attention for risks, privacy, and safety?
Methodology: The methodology of this PhD project will follow a Research through Design approach to determine mappings of digital data to real-world metaphors. Initial designs will be developed and reflected on. High fidelity interactive prototypes will be developed and evaluated both in a controlled laboratory environment and in the field. User studies in the field will investigate the effect of AR on sensory perceptions while being on the move. Theoretical reflections about immersion and embodied interaction on the move will be made.
Contributions: The thesis will make the following contributions: (1) AR design concepts that create data visualisations on the move that are temporarily non-invasive and unobtrusive to avoid a disconnect of users from the real world and their current activity, while enabling frictions when needed. (2) Interactive prototypes for meaningful digital data visualisations/metaphors in the real world using AR technology (3) Theoretical perspectives of how embodied interaction is influenced by AR while being on the move. (4) Critical reflection of situations and data that is meaningful. It contributes to the overarching goals of the doctoral college by investigating boundaries between the physical and digital world in the mobile context.
Context & Motivation: Health related behaviour changes cannot be understood as adding or removing single behaviours from a persons life, but as shifting links in a complex behavioural network (Kelly and Barker 2016) in self-driven manners, without mechanisms of coercion. Sustainable behaviour change is especially important in the health sector due to the continuous rise of noncommunicable diseases. To shift such interlinked behaviours within individual habit networks, these have to be understood and change processes have to be scaffolded within highly inter-connected lifeworlds. In this PhD project, we explore the use of unobtrusive technologies such as ambient interfaces embedded in peoples homes to this effect. Such technologies have to be highly situated and open to appropriation; un- or non-use practices will be used to critically inform the design of future interventions for behaviour change. From the performed analyses, strategies for scaffolding behaviour change through ambient technologies will be developed. Importantly, we will also investigate means to scale such strategies without reductive generalisations that may diminish uptake. This directly targets the support public health goals on prevention in cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in cooperation with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute (LBI) for Digital Health and Prevention.
Research Questions & Objectives: The main objective of this PhD project is to design ambient persuasive technologies, that are embedded into peoples homes, that foster long-term behaviour change and habit formation for CVD patients. Research questions are: (1) How can ambient persuasive technologies be co-designed for peoples homes? (2) Can novel, life-long treatment and prevention options (e.g. online coaching) be co-designed for appropriation to achieve sustainable health? (3) Can mechanisms such as reverse game theory, persuasive design, gamification be used to affect sustainable, healthy behaviour? (4) Is it possible to use ambient persuasive technology to find leverage points in the individual patient’s situation?
Methodology: This PhD project will follow paticipatory design (PD) and research-trough-design (RtD) practices. Methods include, but are not limited to, participatory design and critical design. Initial designs will be developed with users in the field and in a laboratory environment. Highfidelity interactive prototypes will be developed and evaluated in the field. In extended field studies the long-term persuasive effect of the systems will be evaluated.
Contributions: It will result in the following contributions: (1) Novel theoretical perspectives and design knowledge on ambient behaviour change system. (2) Design concepts and prototypical implementation of ambient interfaces for habit change. (3) Knowledge on persuasive strategies for a sustainable behaviour change of CVD patients in terms of physical activity. It contributes to doc.hci by exploring a highly dynamic and complex socio-material network and possibilities to shift this network for positive health outcomes.
Context & Motivation: Engaging in gameplay means entering a very specific form of a context, comprising aspects like an agreed upon ruleset, a social contract, a particular physical environment, or as in digital games, a virtual world. Within these virtual worlds, players have a digital “body” (e.g., an avatar or other digitally embodied representations) while interacting in the physical world. In that regard, the perspective of “hybrid games” seeks to bridge the gap between the digital and physical world (Kankainen, Arjoranta, and Nummenmaa 2017), mostly revolving around combinations of physical artefacts and digital technology or integrating the player’s surroundings. While mostly not being framed as such in regards to hybrid play, other novel input modalities (e.g., motion and body sensing) present new opportunities to connect the digital and physical world, extending the possibilities of hybrid bodily experiences. This thesis looks beyond existing notions of digital-physical play, towards facilitating a body- and material-centered perspective on hybrid play, aiding the design of future play technologies. In particular, this thesis aims at extending existing perspectives on hybrid play through re-framing the body in play as a source for designing hybridity and a material-centred perspective on the design of hybrid play artefacts. Thereby, we integrate and extend the dimensions of hybrid play through alternative notions of embodied play, as well as design explorations and critical reflections on materiality as a key to future forms of hybridity in play.
Research Questions & Objectives: This thesis explores how alternative notions of digitalphysical play can be accomplished through re-negotiating the body in play as an inherent source for hybridity, and considering new functional/interactive materials for the design of hybrid play artifacts. The following research questions will be addressed: (1) How can a player’s body be integrated in novel ways (e.g., emphasizing the ambiguity and “imprecision” of bodily interactions)? (2) What design potentials do new functional materials offer in regards to hybrid play? (3) What novel design perspectives on “the players body” can be formulated based on that? (4) What couplings and dependencies exist between context and play and how could those be utilized for design?
Methodology: This thesis will be rooted in RtD and critical design practices to envision future forms of hybrid play and challenge existing notions. Working at the intersection of theoretical engagements with embodiment and design-based inquiry on future materialities for hybrid play, this thesis will engage in designing and evaluating novel play concepts and artifacts. The basic research on play and embodiment and design explorations will be positioned in the context of public spaces. This context is especially relevant to the core research questions of this thesis, due to its particular complexities and the blurriness between personal context, other people and the spatial environment. There will be theoretical reflections and framing on hybridity and play materials.
Contributions: This thesis is expected to make the following contributions: 1) Design concepts and prototypes of alternative forms of hybrid play, 2) New theoretical perspectives and design knowledge on hybrid play, 3) Theoretical understanding of context and embodiment in play.
Context & Motivation: Education goes beyond gaining or imparting formal knowledge, but encompasses acquiring a range of informal skills, abilities and experiences throughout life, but in particular during early age. This PhD thesis looks beyond formal education in the classroom towards creating technology mediated opportunity spaces for young children in which they can playfully and collaboratively explore, acquire, and contest their informal skills that are critical for their personal development and social participation. It is about appropriating physical spaces in schools and Kindergartens that do not have any educative connotation (e.g., corridors) and to augment these spaces through digital means. Interweaving technology and physical spaces allows to create technology mediated spaces to engage with in playful, collaborative and embodied ways. These inbetween spaces have no role in teaching core subject areas, but are equally important for children in acquiring informal and tacit knowledge. The technologically mediated spaces we envision may help to balance skills and power relations, and scaffold self-driven learning of social competencies.
Research Questions & Objectives: The objective of this thesis is to identify the physical spaces that qualify as opportunity spaces, and to technologically intersect with these physical spaces to facilitate collaborative, playful, and embodied interactions among children, with the ultimate goal to educate them in their informal skillset. Addressed research questions are: (1) What informal skills (e.g., communicative skills) can be targeted by opportunity spaces? (2) Which physical spaces are promising to support technology mediated opportunity spaces? (3) What are interaction mechanism to support the mediation of informal skills? (4) How can physical spaces be technologically enriched to allow for collaborative, playful, and embodied interactions? (5) How can we meaningfully assess the role of such spaces in informal learning?
Methodology: This research is informed by intensive and situational engagement with the context at hand; a context that is particularly rich and complex, entangled in a diverse set of actors, practices, and physical spaces. Technology mediated opportunity spaces seek to bridge and resolve some of these complexities. Therefore, this PhD candidate will apply Participatory Design by conducting empirical studies with diverse actors (e.g., children, parents, pedagogues) to envision, design, evaluate, and question technology mediated opportunity spaces. Finaly, a reflection on the findings will be performed to contribute a thorough theoretical articulation of these opportunity spaces.
Contributions: The following contributions to HCI and digital education are envisioned: (1) Theoretical contributions to informal learning mechanisms and the role of technology in it (2) methodological advances in designing for informal learning and (3) knowledge grounded in a series of case studies implemented in school contexts. It contributes to the overarching research goals of the doc.hci in that it provides prime cases for technology, interaction and context becoming indistinguishable in highly dynamic and complex situations. Learners, the built environment and interactive technologies create mutually shaped conditions for informal learning.
Context & Motivation: Several decades ago, digitalisation fuelled the vision of the paperless office. It quickly became clear that rather than replacing paper, digital tools evolved the notion of the physical office (Sellen and Harper 2003). This PhD project addresses an evolution of the hybrid notion of a physical-digital office as it is relocating into our homes. The Covid-19 pandemic turned home offices into a mass phenomenon, requiring people to transfer their external workplace into a work space at home dissolving boundaries between work and life, the physical and the digital, the private and the shared. A home office not only makes it harder to collaborate, but also impacts social gatherings among colleagues as they do not happen randomly anymore, but solely on demand. Hybrid work spaces that use Extended Reality technologies are able to expand the work space beyond the boundaries of the computer. This allows home office workers to appropriate random tangible objects of their environment (e.g., cups, clothing, pets) to support remote collaboration. Even though a variety of technologies have been proposed to support hybrid work (e.g., Bai et al. 2020), they are yet to be investigated towards their appropriation for individual and situated work practices, experiences, and spaces.
Research Questions & Objectives: This project will critically examine the (hybrid) spaces in which people conduct remote work: the experienced boundaries, the appropriation technologies, and achieved outcomes. The following research questions will be addressed: (1) What work practices and boundaries do people establish in home office? (2) How can collaborative work be made tangible over distance? (3) How can the home office be designed to be hybrid, digitally augmented, virtually enriched in order to support individual work practices and spaces, and foster social exchange? (4) What are ethical implications of re-configuring workplaces at home through technology?
Methodology: This thesis will follow a RtD paradigm, involving PD as well as Critical Design to create design interventions as knowledge creating probes. Together with study participants future technologies and environments will be envisioned, designed, evaluated, and questioned. The chosen participants will have longstanding experiences with home office, but may also have been urged into home office during Covid-19, in order to facilitate diversity among professions and experiences. Furthermore, the candidate will explore the potential of technologies such as VR as an approach to envision limitless futures that are not restricted by the current state of technology.
Contributions: The PhD thesis will make the following contributions: (1) Knowledge about distributed hybrid work practices, objects, and spaces (2) AR and tangible interaction design concepts and prototypical implementations of selected promising concepts. This work will contribute significantly to the overarching goals of this doctoral school. The roles of the designed technologies are intimately interwoven and entangled with the socio-cultural practices of work. The exploration of the boundaries and nature of hybrid spaces of work within a home context effectively dissolves context and interaction within a highly complex network of actors, norms and materialities.
The study program consists of
- PhD seminars, including student onboarding sessions, presentations and discussion of the status of the PhD projects with peers and faculty members, dedicated courses with respect to scientific research including research ethics, research plan creation, scientific writing, publication processes, etc., and guest lectures by internal and external, national and international lecturers;
- Doctoral college weeks, taking place at the end of each semester, are accompanying the progress through focusing on research questions, dispositions, upcoming research topics, field visits, pre-defensios, etc.;
- Doctoral college courses, addressing design research theories and methodologies, ethics, sustainability and diversity, as well as innovation and technologies; and
- PhD clubs, which are informal JF aiming to manifest peer support.
- First deadline for application: April 20, 2022
- Intended date of beginning: to be negotiated (latest October 1, 2022)
- Planned duration: up to 4 years
- Extent of employment: 30 hours per week
- Salary: approx. 32.204 € per year (gross, based on FWF standard salaries 2022)
- Master degree in Human-Computer Interaction, Interaction Design, Computer Science, (Product, Interface, Service) Design, Psychology, Humanities, Social Sciences, or any other programme related to HCI
- Excellent skills and/or practical experience in one or more of the following research areas: Human-Computer Interaction, Interaction Design, Tangible Interaction, Design Fiction, Empirical Research, Science and Technology Studies, etc.
- You have excellent communication skills in spoken and written English
- Willingness to work both independently as well as in a team
- Skills to conceptualize, design and prototype digital and/or physical interactive artifacts
- Willingness to engage in scientific writing
What we offer:
- An interdisciplinary, vibrant group of researchers that facilitates individual research careers
- An extraordinary research facility that supports individual styles of working
- An international, well-established network of industry and research partners
Please send your application including
- Comprehensive CV incl. list of publications (if any)
- Motivation letter (max 2 pages) including a statement that clarifies preferences and motivations for one or more of the 5 aforementioned PhD projects
- Portfolio / website / master thesis / bachelor thesis / publications (if available based on your background)
- Up to 3 names who could provide a reference (no reference letters required)
- Contact information
to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than April 20, 2022 (please state the reference number in your application: HCI_2022_doc.hci).
For further information regarding this position, please contact email@example.com
Paris Lodron University Salzburg particularly welcomes applications from women in accordance with its mission to increase the number of women in academic positions. In case of equal qualification, female applicants will be hired preferentially. Persons with disabilities or chronic illnesses who meet the required qualification criteria are strongly encouraged to apply. For information, please call +43/662/8044-2462 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unfortunately, travel and accommodation expenses for job interviews will not be reimbursed; if possible, remote interviews can be arranged. Employment will be done in agreement with the University rules 2002 (UG) as well as the Employee rules.
Is a master degree required when applying? No, if you are about to complete your master program and will be done by the beginning of the Wintersemester 2022, you may apply.
Are publications a requirement to apply? No, you are invited to apply also if you do not have articles or books published. You should be motivated to write some in the future, though.
The financial support by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is gratefully acknowledged.