PhD Studentship: Designing Shape-Changing Interactive Devices

University of Bristol

Funding for (UK/EU/o’seas) UK/EU (EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to application)

Funding amount Full PhD tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the current RCUK rate (£14,296 in 2016/17).

Hours Full time

Contract (temp/perm) Contract/temporary

Closing date 1 December 2016

The project:

Allowing devices to shape-shift is a revolution that could fundamentally transfigure the market of interactive devices. Not only changing their shapes to be fully adapted to the human morphology, but also enabling morphing abilities: when launching a game, a phone would curl its edges to facilitate grasping with two hands; when writing an email, a tablet surface would transform into a keyboard to improve touch-typing; when teaching about the formation of continents, children would physically interact with and mould actuated surfaces in order to experience the impact of geological forces. These examples only scratch the surface in terms of ways in which we can interact with morphing interactive devices. This can radically change the way we interact with computers, making them universally versatile by endowing them with the ability to adapt themselves to the users in a natural way.

To make this vision happens however we need to create tools that can be used by designers when creating those new devices. In particular the goals are to (1) understand the underlying science behind the notion of affordance and create models describing how humans grasp and deform objects;  (2) create tools (software and hardware) to create morphing interactive devices to demonstrate their benefits. E.g. the simulation software could be inspired form Autodesk Inventor but also embeds hand interaction elements. This software could also be used in combination with virtual reality goggles (oculus rift) and haptic feedback devices (force feedback gloves) in order to help designers building a device without even needing to physically build it.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select Computer Science (PhD) on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Candidate requirements:  The ideal candidate will have proven experience and skills in Human Computer Interaction, 3D Programming, and an interest in areas such as shape changing interfaces, haptic interfaces, virtual reality and user interface design. It is expected that this research will combine quantitative and qualitative analyses from lab studies to test and evaluate interactive systems with users.  The successful candidate will be expected to publish work at leading international conferences in the areas of HCI. Standard English language requirement: Profile E.

Funding: RCUK

Contacts: Dr. Anne Roudaut is a Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Bristol. Her research interests include shape changing interfaces, interaction techniques, robotic, cognitive science and information visualization. The candidate will join a strong team of postgraduate students working within the Bristol Interaction Group (, and will be part of a vibrant student body within the university, with opportunities to interact scientifically and socially. You can find out more about Dr. Roudaut at or email her directly to discuss this project at

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