Socio-Technical Futures Lab – Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: AR/VR


Emerging technologies such as machine vision, AR/VR, AI and recommendation systems raise profound questions about the relationship between technology and society, and how these technologies are becoming differentially integrated into everyday life in Australia and elsewhere. Yet the invention, design, implementation, and use of technology proceeds without such knowledge.  

The Socio-Tech Futures Lab (STuF Lab) has been established in the Department of Media and Communication to examine the ways in which social, cultural, and political dynamics influence the integration of technologies into everyday life, and the implications of such forces in shaping and designing our futures. See - STuF Lab  

Led by Professor Heather Horst, Professor Gerard Goggin and Dr Marcus Carter, the STuF Lab is seeking PhD students interested in bringing humanities and social science research to the table with other disciplines, community, industry and policy actors in the study of emerging digital technologies.

The exemplary PhD candidate is not expected to have pre-existing practical or high-level technical literacy about these emerging technologies. They will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team of senior researchers, incorporating the knowledge, industry experience and technical expertise available at The University of Sydney in their chosen research area.

We are currently recruiting PhD students interested in conducting projects on AI, Machine Vision, AR/VR, and on Recommendation Systems.


Professor Gerard Goggin, Dr Marcus Carter

Research Location

Department of Media and Communications, School of Letters, Art and Media (SLAM)

Program Type



AR/VR offer profoundly new ways of encountering digital worlds. In the case of Augmented Reality, the seamless overlay of digital information onto the real world can drastically alter our experience of physical spaces. As AR technologies such as the Microsoft Hololens and Magic Leap become increasingly mainstream and everyday, understanding the social and ethical impacts of pervasive augmented reality is crucial for advising policy and design ('An Ethical Perspective of the Use of AR Technology in the Tourism Industry' Saoud, J., & Jung, T., (2017)). Virtual Reality, with its capacity to transport users into entirely new and convincing virtual environments, has seen rapid uptake in education and gaming with little consideration of the ethical and social implications of the technology ('Ethics Emerging: the Story of Privacy and Security Perceptions in Virtual Reality' Adams, D., et. al. (2018)). Emerging VR modalities – such as haptic touch and gaze-tracking – present new and challenging implications for the dissemination of VR into everyday life. Linking academic scholarship in mobile media studies, game studies and human-computer interaction this project will examine the nexus between VR/AR design and its uptake in commercial settings. 

The specific nature of this project will be developed in consultation with the prospective PhD student and identified supervisor(s). On these topics, you will be working alongside other researchers and post-doctoral researchers interested in these fields of enquiries and advancing knowledge in your own right. Prospective candidates are not required to have advanced technical literacy in their chosen topic area, although – depending upon the project - an openness to learning these is always welcome.

Additional Information

  • This is not a funded position, although opportunities for research assistance work and travel funding may be available through association with the STuF Lab. The applicant is responsible for obtaining a stipend.  
  • Initial Inquiries should be sent by email to Professor Heather Horst and should be include a copy of the applicant’s CV and a 500 – 1,000 word project proposal on one of the suggested topics. 
  • Depending on the research project proposal, we will connect applicants to potential supervisors from the Department of Media and Communications and across the University of Sydney.

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AR, VR, Augmented reality, Virtual Reality, haptic touch, gaze-tracking, mobile media, game studies, Human-Computer Interaction, AI, artificial intelligence, emerging digital technologies, technology and society, Socio-Tech Futures Lab, STuF Lab, Department of Media and Communication, future

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2625

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