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  PhD in Computing Science: Social Acceptability of Passenger VR Experiences

   College of Science and Engineering

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  Dr J Williamson, Prof Stephen Brewster  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This PhD will explore the social factors that influence the user experience of immersive technologies for passenger settings. Using augmented, mixed, and virtual reality could be very attractive while commuting and travelling, but social acceptability and social contexts may make this hard for users to adopt. This project will explore user attitudes towards these technologies, develop input techniques and applications sensitive to social contexts, and evaluate these experiences in laboratory and real-world settings.

HMDs partially occlude (AR) or entirely immerse (VR) the user in a virtual space. When interacting with technology that is highly visible, the sustained spectatorship of other passengers creates a potentially uncomfortable situation. Loss of awareness means that XR users may accidentally disrupt others or physically invade their space. Other passengers may not know if they are visible to an HMD wearer and be unsure how or if they can interact with them. Interaction with other passengers is often unavoidable: to ask for directions or to move out of the way. Safety is an issue if HMD wearing passengers are unaware of dangerous situations or the actions of others. There are also practical reasons to need awareness of surroundings, e.g. to protect your belongings or to know when to get off a bus. In ViAjeRo, we will study the social aspects of passenger HMD use for the first time to understand the issues and how to design solutions to promote usability and adoption. Solutions could include visualising co-located people in a virtual scene using depth sensing for a mixed-reality collaborative experience. Understanding how acceptability varies by context and what we can do to make interaction more acceptable is vital in creating applications that see widespread adoption; purely technological approaches cannot not go far enough.

This research will involve a range of qualitative and quantitative methods from HCI and a strong technical background to develop immersive applications. Applicants should have experience running user evaluations and experience analyzing the results of surveys, interviews, and interaction logs. Experience developing immersive applications and demonstrated technical ability in this area would also be beneficial.

This PhD is part of the prestigious ERC Advanced Grant ViAjeRo (, which will investigate motion sickness, social acceptability and interaction in virtual and augmented reality passenger experiences. This project will harness the benefits of fully autonomous vehicles, and will greatly reduce time and effort wasted during journeys, by developing new ways for passengers to use virtual and augmented reality technologies for entertainment, work and collaboration on the move.

You will be working with Stephen Brewster and Julie Williamson in the Glasgow Interactive Systems Section (GIST) in the School of Computing Science at Glasgow, and Frank Pollick in the School of Psychology.

For more details see

How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover a stipend of £20,000 p.a. for 42 months.