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Exploring Immersion Through Biosensors in Audiovisual Applications (MSc by Research)


Department of Electronic Engineering

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Prof D Murphy No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Immersive experiences come in many different contexts, from traditional film, gaming, music through to the delivery of virtual reality content via a stereoscopic imaging headset and binaural audio. Although the technology to deliver such experiences, along with its associated limitations, is well understood, defining an experience as immersive, and understanding when an individual feels that they are immersed is much more challenging, although there has been a long tradition of research in this area.

This MSc by Research project will explore subjective methodologies for assessing an individual’s sense of immersion during an audiovisual experience based on feedback from audiences. This is a key question in assessing the impact of any immersive storytelling experience, from audio book, through to radio play, film, game or VR application.

Audience response can be elicited in a number of standard ways, typically through post-experience questionnaire and interview for each audience member. To augment this process, and be able to evaluate in situ, during the experience, it is also possible to use physiological measurements to get data on how the body/mind reacts. This methodology is already commonplace in perceptual studies, and the Department of Electronic Engineering AudioLab has a track record of experience in such research, for instance, based on assessing the impact of environmental soundscape on listeners using heart-rate and skin-conductance biometrics.

Machine learning models can be trained on datasets obtained from such studies and used to make predictions of the scores based on the physiological data. These models can be developed further by using the stimulus data (multimedia files) in conjunction with the scores/biometrics to improve performance, looking at the temporal variation in measures of immersive based through correlation with on-screen events. The ecological validity of the results will also be explored if time permits.

This project is a collaboration between the University of York Department of Electronic Engineering AudioLab (https://audiolab.york.ac.uk/) and Bang and Olufsen, through the XR Stories AHRC Creative Cluster R&D Partnership (https://xrstories.co.uk/). The successful candidate will study in the Department of Electronic Engineering AudioLab at the University of York, and spend three months with the Bang and Olufsen R&D team in Denmark.

The successful applicant should have a strong interest in sound, music and immersive audio technology and good programming skills. Experience or interest in subjective experiments, use of physiological sensors and a basic understanding of statistics and machine learning would also be beneficial.

Candidates must have (or expect to obtain) a minimum of a UK upper second-class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Music Technology or a related subject.

This MSc by Research is due to start 1st October 2020.

How to apply:
Applicants must apply via the University’s online application system at https://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/apply/. Please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process. To apply, please select the MSc by Research in Electronic Engineering or Music Technology for October 2020 entry. Please specify in your application that you would like to be considered for this studentship.

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover the tuition fee at the home/EU rate (£4,407 in 2020/21) and a stipend at the standard research council rate for one year (£15,285 in 2020/21). Bang and Olufsen as the industrial partner will provide technical and financial support for the internship, as well as accommodation for their time in Denmark. International (non-EU) candidates are also welcome to apply but will be required to pay the difference between the UK/EU and international tuition fee rates (approximately £17,000).
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