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The Future of Digital Living: exploring the interactions between people, data and the built environment (Advert Reference: SF18/CIS/KIRK)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Smart cities can collect data from people, through the devices they carry, the services they use and through sensors embedded in the built environment. The intelligent use of this data has the potential to revolutionise how we live our lives, do our work and socialise, making cities and the built environment easier to manage, more efficient to run and more tailored to the needs of citizens.

But how do we make sure that smart cities are truly human-centred? How do we use our digital data to empower inhabitants rather than corporations? How can we use digital technologies to make cities better and more secure places to live?

A research project in this space will explore the interactions between people, data and the built environment, critically considering and/or designing new technologies and the ways in which they may enhance our experiences of the places in which we live. Students exploring projects in this space will either have (or be prepared to develop) skills to prototype and experiment with new technologies or will have strong social science research skills which will enable them to conduct user experience research.

Please note eligibility requirement:

* Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]) in computer science, psychology, social sciences or design; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
* Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

This project is well suited to motivated and hard-working candidates with a keen interest in digital technology, human-computer interaction and the built environment. The applicant should have excellent communication skills including proven ability to write in English.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF18/CIS/KIRK) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2019 or 1 June 2019 or 1 October 2019

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender quality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project


Jäger, N., Schnädelbach, H., Hale, J., Kirk, D., Glover, K. (2017) Reciprocal control in adaptive environments. Interacting with Computers. 29, 4, 512–529

Nabil, S., Kirk, D., Ploetz, T., Wright, P. (2017) Designing Future Ubiquitous Homes with OUI Interiors: Possibilities and Challenges. Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal (IxD&A). 32, 28-37.

Schnadelbach, H., Kirk, D., Glover, K., and Brundell, P. (2012) ExoBuilding – Physiologically Driven Adaptive Architecture. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) 19 (4), 25

Nabil, S., Plötz, T., and Kirk, D. (2017) Interactive Architecture: Exploring and Unwrapping the Potentials of Organic User Interfaces. In Proceedings of Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI '17). ACM, 89-100.

Nabil, S., Kirk, D., Ploetz, T., Trueman, J., Chatting, D., Dereshev, D. and Olivier, P. (2017) Interioractive: Smart Materials in the Hands of Designers and Architects for Designing Interactive Interiors. In Proceedings of ACM DIS 2017. ACM Press, 379-390

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