A PhD in Touch

Radio Frequency IDentification is a wireless technology that is is currently finding applications in the replacement of barcodes in supply chains and logistics. This cheap and potentially ubiquitous technology is likely to influence the interactions we have with many products and services. The Touch project therefore looks at user-centred applications of the technology. A PhD is now available as part of the project.

Touch is interested in developing user-centred applications and services: assessing ways in which the technology might be used in everyday life in useful, fun and non-invasive ways. The growing integration of RFID readers in mobile phones enables simple interactions between phones and physical objects with a ‘swipe’ or ‘touch’. In Japan there are around 10 million people paying for tickets and other services with ‘wallet phones’ and near field communication. These applications in ticketing and retail are the first areas to emerge as mass-market uses.

An initial exploratory period will develop specific research questions and application areas. Touch will look closely at social practices around mobile use and RFID. How does the increasing digitalisation of physical objects affect identity, culture, play, and issues of social transformation. Are there areas of everyday physical activity that would benefit from network intervention? Are there networked, online activities that could be supported by interactions with the physical?

The project will develop a number of practical investigations of the relationship between the digital and the physical. In particular looking at shifts in advertising or marketing, retail activity, public and civic services, gaming or play, and issues around personal, social and communicative uses. Through the design of digital and physical artefacts, applications and prototypes, the project will build a body of knowledge around near field interactions.

The PhD will work on specific themes within the project. This will require self-initiated research, as well as collaborative development with other designers, an anthropologist, software developers, the mobile industry and user groups. Applicants should have a design background and be able to demonstrate knowledge of social, tangible or mobile interaction design. Applicants are encouraged to submit a diversity of themes and approaches within these areas.

The fellowship is provided by Institute of Design, AHO, Oslo, Norway, and has a duration of 3 years, starting date early to mid 2006. The yearly salary amounts to NOK 292.000.

Applications are now closed.

Related things:

  1. Touch project Touch is a research project at the Interaction Design department at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Touch takes a user-centred approach to Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC is a technology that enables......
  2. Touch design briefs The Touch project has been investigating applications and services for RFID and NFC since 2005. Although RFID and NFC have been much hyped, the technologies have been relatively little explored from a design perspective.......
  3. Touch project interview In December 2005 I was interviewed for Printed and Disposable Electronics News about the Touch project, the future of RFID and on the social implications of NFC. Here is the plain interview, since an......
  4. MIRW 2007 A new workshop on Mobile Interaction with the Real World is taking place at Mobile HCI in Singapore this September. Following the success of Mobile Interaction with the Real World; at MobileHCI 2006, we......
  5. Touch as interaction medium This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating. In London, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and elsewhere the ‘swipe’ or ‘tap’ is already a common interaction for paying......

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