PhD on designing technologies to improve the social life of people with dementia

PhD on designing technologies to improve the social life of people with dementia

Published Deadline Location
16 Mar 2 Apr Eindhoven

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Job description

Are you interested in designing meaningful interactive technologies through co-design and participatory design practices? Would you like to study how to improve the lives of people with dementia by promoting social connection with their family and social circle? If so, this PhD position at the Human-Technology Interaction group of Eindhoven University of Technology is for you.

As all human beings, people with dementia have a fundamental need for social belonging and connectedness with others. Yet, having dementia may disrupt their social relationships and diminish their capabilities to participate in society. This means that people with dementia are at risk of becoming socially isolated and disengaged, which might negatively affect their quality of life. This project will focus on developing a suite of technological tools that support people with dementia's need for social contact by creating occasions of mutuality with others. In order to achieve this objective, the project sets itself to follow a person-centered co-design approach driven by the needs, desires, and dreams of people with dementia, and those surrounding them, and aimed at creating interactive technologies that could support people with dementia throughout their journey (at different stages and in different contexts). 


The elicitation of needs, co-design of technologies, and the testing and evaluating of technologies, will be characterized by a sensitive and participatory approach. This means that people with dementia and their families are not merely seen as research participants, but rather as partners in the research and development process. 

For this work package, two PhD candidates will collaborate closely together: one of them will focus on the behavioral aspects and psychological needs, whereas the other will focus on the design of suitable AI technologies and interventions that are aimed to meet those needs. The two PhDs will collaborate closely throughout the project.

Specific objectives for the PhD: 
  • Review the current evidence-base on technology design in relation to social innovation and technologies in dementia care.
  • Perform field research to gather insights into the contexts and opportunities for supporting and enhancing social exchange, social relationships, social participation and social engagement in the lives of people with dementia.
  • Hold co-creation sessions with all involved stakeholders along the patient journey to gain insight and guide the design of the technologies for social engagement.
  • Design and test the co-created technologies with people with dementia, their spouses, families, informal and formal caregivers.


This PhD position is part of the QoLEAD project - Quality of Life by use of Enabling AI in Dementia. QoLEAD is a new, NWO-funded research project, characterized by an interdisciplinary collaboration between several Dutch universities. Its unique focus at the intersection of healthcare and technology offers a challenging and inspiring work environment for ambitious PhD candidates. The entire project offers 8 PhD positions, spread across several work packages. As a PhD, you will work closely together with your work packages' team, as well as with the entire QoLEAD team. The research will be done in a multi-disciplinary team divided between Eindhoven University of Technology (HTI group, IE&IS), Radboud University (UKON), and Tilburg University (Tranzo). You will receive day-to-day supervision from Dr. Giulia Perugia (HTI, IE&IS) and Prof. Wijnand IJsselsteijn (HTI, IE&IS) and will work in a team with Prof. Debby Gerritsen (Radboud UMC) and Dr. Sacha Bolt (TiU). Your affiliation with Eindhoven University of Technology will give you the opportunity to be part of TU/e's Expertise Center of Dementia and Technology (ECDT). The ECDT is an initiative of the TU/e and Alzheimer Nederland to positively change the lives of people with dementia through the use of Warm Technology. In this, we work together with healthcare organization, companies, researchers and citizens.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


  • Have a MSc degree in Human-Technology Interaction, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Industrial Design, Human-Computer Interaction, or related field.
  • Have strong computational and design thinking skills, and a keen interest in co-design and participatory design practices.
  • Have affinity with (the care for) people with dementia and an innate capability to empathize with others and show warmheartedness.
  • Have a strong motivation to conduct research in a challenging, multidisciplinary environment.
  • Have high proficiency in spoken and written English,
  • Have high proficiency in spoken and written Dutch (as you will interact and design for Dutch-speaking people with dementia)

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:
  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale 27 (min. €2,541 max. €3,247).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V39.6465


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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De Rondom 70, 5612 AP, Eindhoven

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