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PhD Studentship: Acceptability of Smart Home Technologies for Health and Care

University of Bristol - Sphere Project

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,553 + p.a. subject to confirmation and eligibility status
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 28th March 2018
Closes: 15th September 2018

As part of the EPSRC SPHERE project, this PhD studentship will focus on the acceptability of smart-home technologies for health in diverse households. Smart-home technology has very broad applicability but there is a risk that these digital technologies will entrench health inequalities. Although some inequalities related to the availability of connectivity in the home, may lessen over time, we lack knowledge of the ways in which different households may use or accept technology in domestic spaces.

It is clear that a nuanced approach to understanding the “home” rather than a “house” should be taken to understand how the sensor systems will be used, adopted, and adapted in a wide variety of domestic settings. In the field of human-computer interaction, this is the difference between treating technologies as located in a physical environment, or “space”, or embedded in a complex social and cultural situation, or “place”. Sociology, anthropology, psychology, human geography, history, architecture and philosophy have all engaged with the “home” as being multidimensional, and this will inform the research on how this complex “place” is impacted by the introduction of sensor systems, and in turn how it impacts the adoption, adaptation and use of the sensor systems.

Through engaging with a variety of households in Bristol with the support of the Knowle West Media Centre, Bristol City Council and WeTheCurious, studies of current household interactions with technologies, perceptions of different households to the current SPHERE home, and deployments of SPHERE to a range of households will engage with some of the complexities of embedding sensors in a range of different homes.

Prior to application, candidates should email a CV and a cover letter highlighting their research interests and suitability for this studentship to Dr Aisling O’Kane (

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select <Computer Science> on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form with the name of the supervisor.

Candidate requirements: 

Applicants should have or expect to achieve a first-class or high upper-second class degree (or equivalent) in Computer Science or relevant engineering discipline.

Interested applicants should have an understanding of human-computer interaction, CSCW, experimental design, qualitative user studies, ethnography, co-design/participatory design, and health and wellbeing


Scholarship covers full UK/EU (EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to 1st September 2018) PhD tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the current RCUK rate (£14,553 in 2017/18, £14,777 in 2018/19).  EU nationals resident in the EU may also apply but will only qualify for PhD tuition fees


For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Aisling O’Kane

For general enquiries, please email

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