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Design of virtual immersive environments for inclusive multimodal experiences

Immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality are a topic of fast-paced research, and knowledge boundaries are presently being pushed by design research on inclusive immersive social environments, among others. Similarly, haptic technologies have witnessed significant developments, including progress driven by large-scale private organisations worldwide. In particular, the concept of Tactile Internet, i.e. of a network with ultra-low latency and high availability, reliability, and security, has received increased attention in recent years. Further development in this area is expected to be facilitated by the availability of 5G wireless communication technology.

This project will explore the convergence between immersive and haptic technologies. It will fill a knowledge gap by identifying and understanding opportunities and barriers towards design of equitable multimodal experiences, individual and social, within virtual environments. One potential incarnation of the research addresses the role that the Tactile Internet can play within the Metaverse, a future immersive virtual world envisaged as a hypothetical iteration of the Internet.

The successful candidate will take responsibility for designing, running, and evaluating a programme of activities with end users, to understand attitudes towards tactile and multimodal interaction within immersive environments. They will play a key role in understanding opportunities and barriers towards inclusive multimodal immersive experiences.

The ideal candidate’s profile combines proficiency in user-centred design processes with technical competency in relation to immersive technologies, with an emphasis on Virtual Reality. Familiarity with haptic technology is preferred. A Masters’ degree is desired but not essential.

The research will be carried out in a stimulating interdisciplinary environment in the Brunel Design School in close collaboration with Brunel Engineering. The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr Federico Colecchia, who specialises in emerging technologies and innovation at the intersection between technical development and user-centred design. They will have access to relevant stakeholders and will benefit from a range of support services that Brunel University London offers to their Doctoral Researchers, including professional skills and career development support.

For informal enquiries about the research project, please email

The University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second-Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1), or international equivalent. A Master’s degree is a welcome, but not required, qualification for entry. 

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Related Research Group(s)

Digital Design Lab

Digital Design Lab - User-centred research, innovation, consultancy and knowledge transfer aimed at design, development and evaluation of innovative digital and digital-physical systems, products, services and experiences.