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PhD in Supporting Design Choices with VR-Simulations

PhD in Supporting Design Choices with VR-Simulations

The two successful PhD Candidates will be embedded in the Systemic Change Group and work under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Regina Bernhaupt and in close cooperation and coordination with Philips Experience Design.
Industrial Design


General introduction

The department of Industrial Design is one of the nine departments of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). Research at the department is focused on two areas or thematic clusters: Systemic Change and Future Everyday.

The Systemic Change cluster focuses on designing innovations that have impact on systemic structures and groups of people, ultimately aiming to address large-scale issues such as urban health, future mobility and sustainability. Field data is used in novel iterative and circular research-through-design processes involving strategic alliances of stakeholders.

“Systemic Change uses Design and Technology to study socio-technical systems at the level of a community, by designing interventions addressing societal challenges and analyzing their effect on the eco-system”. Systemic change is the extension to standard Human-Computer Interaction Processes and Methods to address societal change.

The Systemic Change cluster focuses on the co-creation of socio-technical systems operating in semi-open real-life ecosystems or field labs, with the aim to address clearly defined societal challenges and study the nature, drivers and opportunities for sustainable change induced by these systems on an ecosystem level. Main focus is the usage of emerging technology (e.g. sensors and actuators, visualization of data, application of AI methods or datamining crowd platforms) to envision, design and evaluate these systems and their longitudinal effects. To enable these long-term studies we develop the necessary methods, tools, platforms, spaces and field labs to support the co-creation and analyses of these socio-technological systems in cross-disciplinary stakeholder teams.

This position is part of collaboration between the department of Industrial Design TU/e and Philips Experience Design, especially the Data Enabled Design team. This team is a group of data designers with expertise on data visualization, user experience research and prototyping with/around data and AI. The Data Enabled Design team is part of global 500+-design community and working on both business and research driven projects. 

The two successful PhD Candidates will be embedded in the Systemic Change Group and work under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Regina Bernhaupt and in close cooperation and coordination with Philips Experience Design.

PhD Position A: Using virtual environments to simulate design choices and measure their impact on the user experience in a medical setting

One of the central aspects for Philips Experience Design, as well as a long-standing question in the broader design community, is how to measure experience and especially the impact of design interventions on it. Increasingly design organizations are asked to measure the impact design solutions have on users, operations or even business results. In the health technology domain known data driven practices are not so easily applied, therefore we like to investigate new ways of measuring experiences.

Goal of this PhD is to understand how virtual reality environments and games can be used to allow to simulate and measure the impact of design choices with a focus on usability and user experience. The focus will be on the development of a (technical) framework together with a process for early stage design evaluation with the goal to understand engagement and activities in these environments.

Based on industrial cases from Philips Experience Design, the PhD candidate will investigate how games and game environments like Unity can be used to not only prototype user interfaces, but enable to gather usage data within these prototypes to evaluate different design choices and their impact on patient and staff experience.

To investigate what types of data are relevant for various forms of experiences the PhD candidate will as a first step apply artificial intelligence based classification methods to understand and classify already existing data from projects, with the goal to identify the design space for such an games-based approach, and iteratively enhance the understanding of the design space.

The candidate has a chance to actively collaborate in project at Philips Experience Design which enables access to applied design cases, data on medical procedures and devices and their different users.

PhD Position B: Building an approach towards improving health outcomes by designing for patient and staff experience

Value Based Healthcare is a healthcare delivery model in which providers, including hospitals and physicians, are paid based on patient health outcomes. The focus is on delivering higher value of care, rather than volume. Within the Value Based Healthcare model patient and staff experience are heavily emphasized and listed as the two main contributors to improving health outcomes overall. The role for designers in understanding and designing for larger scale socio-technical system is crucial.

For Philips Experience Design it is on top of the agenda to formulate an approach, with a strong theoretical grounding and practical (both technical and embedded in the design process) implementation, as to how to deliver concepts that we can both design for as well as correlate to improvements in these health outcomes. With these solutions, the aim is to deliver health technology solutions that support personalized care.

The aim of the PhD is to investigate and formalize an approach, based on running projects within design practice combined with a strong theoretical backbone. Part of this research will entail formulation as well as implementation of the right data structures and quality to measure impact of patient and staff experience on health outcomes. As such, the prospective candidate will work on analyzing data and proposing artificial intelligence approaches to address the correlation between designing for experiences and outcomes at scale.  Preferably, the candidate uses his or her visualization and visual analytics skills to make insights and relationships in this area concrete and accessible to a larger audience.

Goal is to extend the currently existing framework to understand in more detail how processes and constructs like co-responsibility in the patient domain or distributed decision making in the professional domain are linked to improved health outcomes.


We are looking for candidates that meet the following requirements:

  • a solid background in Human-Computer Interaction with a strong affinity towards technology and programming, shown by a master’s degree in Industrial Design, Psychology, Computer Science or related disciplines,
  • a strong interest in methods and their development
  • programming skills at least in one language e.g. Java, C
  • a good basis is data analytics and statistics
  • good communication skills in English, both in speaking and in writing;
  • capability and willingness to work both independently and in a team of hci researchers and interact with domain experts; being highly motivated, rigorous, and disciplined;
  • being enthusiastic about working on the changing use cases;experience in research and a publication record will be considered additional advantages.


  • a challenging job in a dynamic and ambitious university;
  • A full time temporary appointment for a period of 4 years, with an intermediate evaluation after 9 months;
  • A gross salary of €2.395 per month in the first year increasing up to €3.061 in the fourth year;[rb1] 
  • a yearly holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary;
  • a yearly end year allowance of 8.3% of the yearly salary;
  • a broad package of fringe benefits (including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, savings schemes and excellent sports facilities).
  • The PhD candidates will be working partly at the TU/e Industrial Design and at Philips Experience Design both in Eindhoven.

Informatie en sollicitatie



  • Cover letter explaining your motivation and qualifications for the position you are applying to; if you want to be considered for multiple positions, provide a separate motivation for each of these positions. This is the application for position A.
  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae, including contacts of at least two referees.
  • A transcript of your grades for the Bachelor and Master level courses.
  • A copy or a link to your MSc thesis. If you have not completed it yet, please explain your current situation.
  • List of publications (with links to download) and/or software developed (e.g. links to GitHub).

If you are interested, we invite you to apply before the 31st of January 2021. Please use the application form on our website via the apply-now-button and do not send us applications by e-mail. Note that a maximum of 5 documents of 2 MB each can be uploaded, so if you have more than 5 documents you will have to combine them.