Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) enables excellent Chinese students to obtain their PhD degrees at TU/e with a 4-year scholarship from the CSC. Students from all Chinese universities are eligible for this program. The program aims to foster long-term research co-operation between Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Chinese universities. Students who receive a scholarship are provided with a living allowance as prescribed by the Chinese Government for the term of the scholarship, return airfare to the Netherlands by the most economical route, student visa fees and the cost of health insurance for international students.

PhD in

Creating intelligent systems, products, and related services in a societal context

at Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology



The Department of Industrial Design (ID) of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is located in a highly industrialized region, known as ‘Brainport’. This region is internationally recognized as a top technology area with a special focus on the integration of design and technology. The department was established in close collaboration with the technological industry, and, because of this, focuses its research on the Design of Intelligent Systems, Products and related Services in a societal context. With these intelligent systems, it aims at offering new, breakthrough possibilities leading to societal transformations.

Innovative solutions today increasingly address a complex web in which products, services, technologies and user needs are interwoven. This, in turn, means that innovation is increasingly dependent on agreements within larger groups of stakeholders. Companies can no longer rely solely on technology breakthroughs and incremental product development. Effective differentiation and real added value for the consumer are achieved by incorporating end-user insights in product innovation. This takes on an added significance when designing solutions for the emerging connected, digitally enabled world.

Products and services are increasingly overlapping, everyday products are more intelligent and adaptive, and the focus is on ‘systems' rather than stand-alone devices. Additionally, user needs are evolving over time. Maintaining simplicity and understanding the user in such a landscape becomes a challenge. The need to be connected and the need for the customer to be an integral part of the value chain has forced all leading industrial and political bodies to incorporate human values, needs, and desires from the very beginning of the innovation process. Innovation in this climate requires social science, design, engineering, and business to be brought together in an interdisciplinary way. Industrial design should simultaneously support and catalyze the contributions of all participants, enabling a collaborative exploration of potential futures that can be translated to each partner's individual perspective.

As society exits the Industrial Age, so the excesses of daily production and consumption patterns are becoming evident. The ‘old-new' way of doing things, based on productivity and more of everything and faster, was based on the metaphor of the machine. Today, the issue is about relevant and meaningful innovation for society, for cultures, and for people. Integration of the Design, Engineering and Social Sciences perspectives will enable us to create intelligent systems, products, and related services in a societal context based on ‘human values' rather than on the ‘efficiency' criterion that has saturated today's design.

Expected Background

Applicants to this PhD research shall have a background in industrial design, digital arts and interactive media, human-computer interaction, computer science, information technology, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and physics.

Research Topics

We are aiming at recruiting up to 8 CSC PhDs in 2018. The applicants can apply for one of the following topics:

  1. Interaction with Shared Systems. Light is important for people. The quality of lighting is very relevant for our productivity, well-being, comfort, and health. Modern connected lighting systems bring many opportunities for the manipulation of lighting, but make the interaction with lighting also very complex. State-of-the-art interfaces are often based on smartphone applications. Although these have many advantages, for instance related to personalization and availability, they do not take in account that lighting is essentially a Shared System: multiple users, with different preferences and intentions can change the light (simultaneously or by turn taking) and if one user changes the light, the resulting light affects others as well. People are social, they are able to negotiate and to coordinate their actions and behavior based on social skills. An important part of these skills is our ability to access and process the Social Information that is available in our environment. Social Information is related to presence, activity, preference, timing, mutual relationship etc. of other people in our environment. In this project we investigate modern, interactive, connected lighting systems to obtain better understanding of the interaction with shared systems. You will design interfaces for lighting that are able to express social information, that change appearances or help to make interaction decisions based on the available social information. You will evaluate their effect on (perceived) light control in home or office contexts.

  2. Wearables for Vitality. One of the major problems regarding the long-term health perspective of adult people in developed countries is the fact that many people lead a largely sedentary lifestyle. There is ample evidence that this can lead to (the onset of) chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and/or cardio-vascular problems. This is sedentary lifestyle so deeply embedded in many cultures that many people are not even remotely aware how much they are sitting and what this means for their health. Thanks to the development of recent sensor technology the registration of the actual (lack of-) activities is not so much of a problem; representing the accumulated information to users in a (persuasive) manner that influences daily work-patterns/rituals/etc. definitely is. Although, in theory, the representation of information via commonly used devices (such as smartphones) is definitely possible this project aims at more unobtrusive and persuasive data representation via, for example, integration of data representation into active wearables thus creating awareness of the (lack of) activities not only on a cognitive level but also on a subconscious level allowing a faster and more thorough integration into daily life.

  3. Motivational Technologies for Healthy Eating Behaviours among Older Adults. In this project you will work on developing technology probes to motivate sustainable behaviour change for healthy eating. Earlier research has demonstrated that eating behavior is very much influenced by hedonic and homeostatic control of eating. Related pathological, physiological and psychological factors can influence the way we eat. For example, for older adults living alone or moving to care homes, the chance that they will acquire less nutrition in their daily food intake is much higher than those are still able to cook themselves and eat with partners. Healthy eating behavior can stimulate more physical activities and prevent chronic diseases such as heart diseases or cancers. At the moment there are various healthy apps developed for healthy young people to track eating behaviors. Such a solution may not be immediately applicable for the older adults given the well-known technology acceptance challenge. Together with our industrial partner from the food technology segment, we are aiming to create a motivational solution to support and facilitate a healthy eating behavior among older adults. A PhD student working in the ‘motivational technologies for healthy eating behaviours among older adults’ project should have a strong interest in digital technologies (e.g. with master degree related to computer science) and design for and with target user groups with special needs.

  4. Healthy working space. In this project you will work on developing contextual aware solutions to stimulate more physical activities between high level of intensities to moderate and low level of intensities. “Sedentary behavior is a new smoking.” Early research has called for promoting a dynamic daily routine and using a social-ecological approach for healthy working space. Many wearable devices are available already in the market for people to sense and monitor their daily activities and promote active lifestyle. Early research has also demonstrated that personalization motivational strategies are very important to promote healthy working space. How to turn the insights into solutions into acceptable and adoptable interventions in working spaces is the challenge here. Together with our industrial partner from the food technology segment, we are aiming to create a motivational solution to support and facilitate a healthy eating behavior among older adults. A PhD student working in the ‘healthy working space’ project should have a strong interest in digital technologies (e.g. with a master degree related to computer science) and a strong affinity with design.

  5. Shared control for autonomous driving. One trend in the development of autonomous driving is to take the human completely out-of-the-loop. However, we believe that there are good grounds to keep the human in the loop, at some level of control (in particular tactical control), even in the case of full automation. One reason to do so is that the technology may not be flexible enough to always behave according to the human needs and preferences, which may vary across people and situations. For that reason, we need to develop a way to enable the occupant and the automated driving system to enter into a dialogue to coordinate decisions. The aim of this project to explore relevant use cases, to investigate in which cases people want to be able to influence the behaviour of an automated vehicle, and to develop and evaluate the interface supporting the human-system dialogue by means of studies with a driving simulator. Profile: Industrial design or human-computer interaction; affinity with technology (programming and electronics) and doing experiments for validation of concepts and interfaces.

  6. Multi-Device Crowdsourcing: Empowering Crowdworkers. Multi-Device Crowdsourcing: Empowering Crowdworkers. Crowdsourcing can be defined as a task that can be given to a large, anonymous group of users, connected through the Internet and the users' aggregated response constitutes a solution to the task. Crowdsourcing has been applied from its very beginning to a plethora of creative industries; designing clothes [Threadless.com]; designing graphics [99designs.com & witmart.com]; photography and animation [iStockphoto.com]. In spite of the all the existing services, crowdsourcing is still in its infancy. In this project you will be asked to explore ways in which crowdsourcing can support designers and design work in several devices. Such a project raises several research questions: what part of designer's work can be crowdsourced? How much of the designer's context is necessary for crowdworkers to be able to perform the requested tasks? What creative work can be done in different types of devices? The project shall proceed following an action research approach, designing, developing and deploying a platform for crowdsourcing, and using it in the context of design projects. Requirements for candidates: Affinity with software development, online communities/social media, interaction design is required.

  7. "Distributed Embodied Interfaces in Home IoT Systems". Home IoT promises a future with smart houses that support a sustainable and social living. Current home IoT has a focus on connecting single sensors and devices for simple automation, often for single users. In contrast, this research project focuses on multi-activity and multi-person scenarios and aims to use end-user programming strategies for creating new behavior of home IoT rather than just control and automation. The aim of this research is to investigate the qualities of new distributed and embodied interfaces to home IoT. It explores an ‘alternative reality’ to the (touch) screen and voice-driven interaction that is mostly used at present. And it does so with a heavy emphasis on physical prototyping and testing, first in the lab, later in real-life. The work builds on and is expected to extend earlier work on home IoT in a scale model. The ideal candidate has an open mind for alternative and meaningful interaction solutions and is a maker, someone who can prototype and demonstrate concepts quickly. The candidate ideally has skills in computer science and electronics as well as in (interaction/media) design. The candidate is passionate about research, potentially has already written publications and is an open-minded person with an affinity for hardware and making.
  8. Exploring digital resourcefulness through design. Resourcefulness is an everyday practice that is important for human wellbeing because it allows for proceeding in satisfactory ways in the face of daily challenges and unexpected situations. Resourcefulness is not a property of a person or a technology alone, but something that emerges from the way they work together. A challenge for interaction design is that digital technologies, in particular, tend to inhibit resourcefulness. This is related to their often fairly closed scripts and complex configurations that resist modification and adaptation in use, as well as to their relative newness and rapid innovation through which general skills and understandings amongst users are lagging behind. On the other hand, digital resourcefulness offers many underexplored opportunities: how might digital capabilities be integrated into everyday life in varied and creative ways alongside elastic bands, paperclips, widgets, bowls, boxes, and so on? The PhD candidate will conduct design research to explore practices of resourcefulness through the development of a series of digital resources and reflection on their deployment in everyday practice. The aim is to work towards enriched understanding of digital resourcefulness in everyday life as well as design guidelines for facilitating it. Candidate requirements: experience in interaction design and prototyping, preferably experience with field deployment studies.

  9. Sleeping, health, bedroom climates and energy. Since a few decades, the Netherlands, like other countries in moderate climates is seeing a rising norm to artificially heat bedrooms during the night. The heating of bedrooms is facilitated by a spreading of gas central heating but thrives on more than technological developments alone. Rationales underlying the trend of sleeping-in-a-heated-space relate in part to rising standards of comfort, but also to health. Health professionals recommend, and actively promote bedroom temperatures that imply heating in bedrooms during times of colder weather. However, other studies find that sleeping in a heated room may have adverse health effects, and the energy implications of heating bedrooms – and often by default the entire house – at night are significant. In this PhD project, the researcher works at the contested touching points of sleep, health and bedroom climate (in the broad sense). This includes materially exploring relations between sleep, health and bedroom climates, as well as developing feasible alternatives to centrally heated bedrooms during times of sleep. Requirements for candidates: experience in interaction design and prototyping, preferably experience with field deployment studies.

  10. Social things for well-being. We explore the impact of social networks, internet of things, augmented reality and new lighting and display technologies in on the modern society, the impact of the bottom-up power and the much flattened structure of the social media on societal transformations, the impact of the social and systematic perspective of intelligent systems, products and related services on industrial design, and in turn, the possible impact of industrial design on these on-going societal and technical changes. Application-wise the design research on social computing and internet of things can be integrated with health and care. We are interested in the issues and opportunities of applying new material and technologies in lighting, displays, wearables and mobile devices for social wellbeing, for example designing connected environments in which the inhabitants are empowered by wearable senses and smart things for social bonding, and designing interactive art installations that augment architecture, landscape and public arts with digital and social media in public spaces for social connectedness and inclusion.

  11. Design Research on Social Cyber-physical systems. In the vision of Industry 4.0, the new industrial revolution is a revolution of cyber-physical systems for which the Internet of Things form a key foundation that has already a great impact on the way people live, and the way business is organized. Cyber-physical systems were often considered as feedback systems that integrate computation, networking, and physical processes, “possibly with” “humans in the loop”, but recently with “humans in the loop” as one of the key research topics. The advances in social computing have connected humans in this loop in cyber-social systems such as Facebook and Twitter, while their social-physical activities are supported by the cyber-physical systems on or near their bodies and in their interconnected environments. Cyber-physical systems become an integral part of cyber-physical-social (CPS) systems that weave into the socio-technical fabric of human society. These hybrid systems, exhibiting both continuous (in physical and social spaces) and discrete (in cyberspaces) dynamic behavior, give rise to not only new opportunities but also new challenges in designing new products and services where human and technical aspects are massively intertwined in synergy. In this project we explore the impact of CPS systems on behavior and society, the impact of the bottom-up power and the much flattened structure of the social media on societal transformations, the impact of the social perspective of intelligent systems, products and related services on industrial design, and in turn, the possible impact of industrial design on these on-going societal and technical advances.

  12. Creating situation awareness and mitigating motion sickness for autonomous driving. One of the promises for autonomous driving is that users can engage in other activities while being driven, such as answering e-mail, reading or watching videos. However, engaging in other activities will disrupt people’s situation awareness. One of the consequences is that, according to expectations, quite a few people may develop motion sickness. The aim of the project is to investigate ways to provide people with situation awareness while being engaged in other activities, through ambient/peripheral displays employing different modalities (visual, The infrastructure for the research consist of an instrumented car that is owned by the department. The project build on existing PhD research. Profile: Industrial design or human-computer interaction; affinity with technology (programming and electronics) and doing experiments for validation of concepts and interfaces.

  13. Persuasive Children Robot Interaction. Social robotics is an emerging field which focuses on the design, development and evaluation of robotic agents that can interact socially with people. Social robots often exhibit human like characteristics such as face expressions, maintaining eye contact, speech input and output that can enhance the sensation of them being a social agent. The potential of using robots as tutors, companions or even aids to therapy have been explored widely. Relatively less is known regarding the interaction of children with social robots, what social cues reinforce social reactions towards the robot and enhance its effectiveness in its role as teacher/coach/friend. This PhD aims to extend our understanding of how to design social interactions with social robots. We shall explore the affective aspects of interaction, the ability of robots to persuade children, the expectations children have of robots and the potential such robots may have as instructors, coaches, or companions of children. The exploration will proceed with a series of cases and experiments where we observe the interaction of child and social robot.

Application Procedure

It is a two-step process:

  1. Applying with us. According to the quality of the application documents, you might be invited for an interview (video conferencing, if necessary). If the interview gives positive advice, you will be offered with the admission letter, with tuition fee waiver.
  2. Applying at CSC. We will help you adjust, refine and improve your research proposal, and help you improve the quality of other application documents. We will assist and advise you throughout the CSC application process.

If you are interested in applying, please first address your interest to dr. Jun Hu: j.hu@tue.nl as early as possible for questions and guidance, and later prepare the following documents and submit them to j.hu@tue.nl:

  1. Curriculum Vitae
  2. Research plan according to one of the aforementioned topics (no more than 4-pages of A4 in English, Including Background, Objectives and Research questions, Methodology, Planning, Expected results, Feasibility, Future Plan after your PhD, and References).
  3. Motivation letter (no more than 1-page A4).
  4. Copy of Master Degree (if available, or a letter from your university to prove that you are expected to graduate in due time).
  5. Letter of recommendation from your supervisor at the home university.
  6. Any indication of your English level (IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 95, or equivalent) according to the requirements from CSC (http://www.csc.edu.cn/) and TU/e.

  7. If you have a design or art background, portfolio of your design or artwork.

If these documents are too big to be attached to an email, you are advised to simply send in a link to a single online ZIP file that contains all the documents.


Please notice the deadlines: February 15, 2018 at TU/e; Deadline for applying at CSC is April 5, 2018 (please check the CSC website http://www.csc.edu.cn/). For a better support for your application, we would encourage you to apply as early as possible.

For more information

For more information, please contact dr. Jun Hu: j.hu@tue.nl

More about research at ID, TU/e: http://wiki.id.tue.nl/CSC/ResearchAtID

More about PhD programs at ID, TU/e: http://wiki.id.tue.nl/CSC/PhDProgramsAtID

More about the requirements in applying for the Scholarship from China Scholarship Council (CSC) for Chinese PhD candidates: http://www.csc.edu.cn

JunHu: CSC/2018 (last edited 2018-09-06 14:33:03 by JunHu)