Microsoft Funded PhD: Using AI to develop joint attention in blind children (University of Bristol)

Application information: We are seeking a person with an interest in employing human-computer interaction methodologies to evaluate new AI technologies and their impact on children over time. The ideal person would have an undergraduate or Master’s degree in a relevant discipline such as Computer Science, Psychology or Social Science and would be interested in both quantitative and qualitative methods. Strong background in design and evaluation, experience working with children, disability, or minority population as well as demonstrated capability for research (e.g. through publication) are particularly desirable.

Applicants are encouraged to contact us as soon as possible. For further details or to discuss this contact Dr Oussama Metatla including a full CV and any relevant details.

Project Tokyo with Cecily Morrison, Martin Grayson, Sebastian Tschiatchek, Tim Regan, Theo Holroyd, Peter Bosher, Emily Watton at the Microsoft Research Centre, 21 Station Road, Cambridge. CB1 2FB. 17 – 18 December 2019

Project Overview: Microsoft Research is working with select academic partners to harness recent advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital audio, computer vision and human-computer interaction to help empower people through interdisciplinary research in an effort called Project Tokyo. As part of Project Tokyo, this PhD studentship project will investigate the design and impact of an AI-based computer vision system for communicating real-time social information to children born blind, with a particular focus on how such technology might be used as a visual attention analogue, enabling children to develop awareness and understanding of others’ attentional patterns and their embedding in spatio-social relationships. Particular focus will be directed towards long-term evaluation and further development of social interaction technologies, and to explore novel metrics and evaluation techniques for evaluation with small populations. The project fits within BIG’s broader research agenda of investigating the design, development and evaluation of inclusive technologies for people with and without disabilities.

Funding: The post must start by September/October 2020 and will be funded over 4 years. The award covers an enhanced EPSRC stipend, home-based student fees and a substantial budget for consumables, travel and subsistence. The person will also have an opportunity to intern at Microsoft Research. Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply: Normally, to be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education). There is limited flexibility of universities to include EU students and international.

Host: The University of Bristol, through BIG, is a world leader in Human-Computer Interaction. BIG has a long and rich tradition at the forefront of building novel interactive devices, deploying new forms of interactions and evaluation in everyday settings. The group comprises computer scientists, materials scientists and social scientists, with a strong international reputation in the areas of healthcare, accessibility, sustainability and fabrication. The Department of Computer Science is an international centre of excellence in the foundations and applications of computing, ranked 4th in the UK for research intensity by the 2014 REF. As well as HCI, the Department is home to world-leading expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science, to EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training in Interactive AI and Digital Health and Care, and further benefits from a close association with neighbouring research groups in Vision and Robotics. The University of Bristol is a leading institution among the UK’s Russell Group Universities, a member of the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and is regularly placed among the top-ranking institutions in global league tables.  Bristol is a friendly, green city with a rich and lively cultural scene and has consistently been voted one of the best places to live in the UK.

Primary Supervisor: Dr Oussama Metatla, The Bristol Interaction Group (BIG), Department of Computer Science, University of Bristol.

Microsoft Research Supervisor: Dr Cecily Morrison, Microsoft Research Cambridge (MSRC), UK.

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