PhD Position F/M [ALRC 2023] Interaction beyond the sensorimotor loop

April 18, 2023
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2023-05757 - PhD Position F/M ALRC 2023 Interaction beyond the sensorimotor loop

Contract type : Fixed-term contract

Level of qualifications required : Graduate degree or equivalent

Fonction : PhD Position

Level of experience : Recently graduated

About the research centre or Inria department

The Inria University of Lille centre, created in 2008, employs 360 people including 305 scientists in 15 research teams. Recognised for its strong involvement in the socio-economic development of the Hauts-De-France region, the Inria University of Lille centre pursues a close relationship with large companies and SMEs. By promoting synergies between researchers and industrialists, Inria participates in the transfer of skills and expertise in digital technologies and provides access to the best European and international research for the benefit of innovation and companies, particularly in the region.

For more than 10 years, the Inria University of Lille centre has been located at the heart of Lille's university and scientific ecosystem, as well as at the heart of Frenchtech, with a technology showroom based on Avenue de Bretagne in Lille, on the EuraTechnologies site of economic excellence dedicated to information and communication technologies (ICT).


The Loki research team (Inria Center of the Université de Lille, France) is looking for a Ph.D. candidate to start a thesis in October 2023. The Ph.D. thesis will focus on the study of the limits of human perception and action (the sensorimotor loop) in unusual interactive environments, and on the consequences of these limits on the design of interactive devices. A master research internship (April/May to August/September 2023) is possible and strongly encouraged.


The term sensorimotor loop represents the constant and quasi-instantaneous exchange of information between humans and their environment, on which they act through their actions (motor) and whose consequences they perceive through their senses. This is a crucial aspect of the interaction between humans and computer systems, which are designed to take advantage of it. However, there are situations that intrinsically break this loop. This is the case, for example, when a person wants to control a system at a very large distance, for example, a robot on the Moon controlled by an operator on Earth. Such a system typically has high latency (several seconds), and the connection has limited throughput. We expect this to reduce the users' ability to control the system, but also their situational awareness. We wish to characterize and quantify the limitations of the sensorimotor loop and propose control strategies to mitigate or compensate for these consequences, which can be used in the design of interactive systems.

Main activities

Knowledge about user behavior under high latency conditions is limited, as is knowledge about how best to design control systems that address these issues. In the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), the effects of latency on user behavior are often studied below 200 ms Pavlovych 2009, but some performance models successfully describe target acquisition tasks with (fixed) latencies up to 4 seconds Hoffmann 1992 Hoffmann 2017. In this project, we will investigate whether these models are valid with varying or higher latency levels, and how to improve user control in such interactive environments.

In a first step, the work will therefore consist in characterizing and quantifying the negative effects of conditions such as high latency, or limited bandwidth. This study will be carried out through controlled experiments involving both elementary tasks (target acquisition or tracking) and tasks specific to long-distance robot control (guidance, arm manipulation, etc.).

In a second step, the candidate will propose alternative methods of interaction or control allowing to circumvent these problems or mitigate their effects. Previous work on smaller latencies proposes predictive methods Nancel 2018 based on models of human behavior. The student will explore their relevance to the latencies studied in this project. He or she will also be encouraged to propose, prototype, and evaluate alternative solutions for enabling users to interact effectively under multi-second latency conditions. A promising avenue for improving the user's awareness is the use of Virtual or Augmented Reality, another specialty of the Loki team.

Virtual Reality allows for overcoming some of the limitations of the physical world. It is possible to interact with virtual objects at a distance Baloup 2019, to cross them, or to teleport for example. Thus we can reconstruct the sensory-motor loop by proposing artificial actions and sensations that allow the user to perform his tasks.

Baloup 2019 Baloup, M., Pietrzak, T., Casiez, G. RayCursor: A 3D pointing facilitation technique based on raycasting. 2019. CHI 2019, 1–12. Hoffmann 2017 Hoffmann, E.R. Control strategy in movements with transmission delay. Journal of Motor Behavior. 50, 4 (2017). Hoffmann 1992 Hoffmann, E.R. Fitts' law with transmission delay. Ergonomics. 35, 1 (1992). Nancel 2018 Nancel, N., Aranovskiy, S., Ushirobira, R., Efimov, D., Poulmane, S., Roussel, N., Casiez., G. Next-point pre- diction for direct touch using finite-time derivative estimation. 2018. UIST 2018. Pavlovych 2009 Pavlovych, A., W. Stuerzlinger., W. The tradeoff between spatial jitter and latency in pointing tasks. 2009. EICS 2009.


The successful candidate will hold a Master in computer science or equivalent, and show a great interest in performing high-quality research in Human- Computer Interaction and to some extent Virtual Reality. They must speak and write English fluently, and have experience or strong interest in software and hardware development. Creativity, independence, team working and communication skills are valuable advantages.

Benefits package
  • The recruited person will join a dynamic team of international scientific experts in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (https://
  • We work in a stimulating and pleasant working environment (participation in transport (50%), on-site catering; teleworking; leave and special leave of absence (45 days), videoconference equipment, etc.).
  • Our agents benefit from quality training adapted to their needs and skills, whether technical, methodological, or linguistic.
  • In addition to improving their technical skills, Inria offers our researchers the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills by participating in awareness-raising events and training on the creation of start-ups (start-up horizon, intellectual property training, hackAthon ... https: // www. ).
  • Our administrative services assist new international agents with the various administrative procedures (visa, residence permit, social security, housing, bank, etc.)
  • Remuneration

    1st and 2nd year: 2 051€ gross per month

    3rd year: 2 158€ gross per month

    General Information
  • Theme/Domain : Interaction and visualization Software Experimental platforms (BAP E)

  • Town/city : Villeneuve d'Ascq

  • Inria Center : Centre Inria de l'Université de Lille
  • Starting date : 2023-10-01
  • Duration of contract : 3 years
  • Deadline to apply : 2023-04-18
  • Contacts
  • Inria Team : LOKI
  • PhD Supervisor : Pietrzak Thomas / [email protected]
  • The keys to success

    The candidate must have or be about to obtain a Master's degree or equivalent in Computer Science or Human-Computer Interaction, and demonstrate a strong interest in research. He or she must have experience and a keen interest in software development and have strong programming skills. Creativity, independence, team spirit, communication, and writing skills are valuable assets. A good level of technical and scientific English is also required.

    All applications are encouraged, regardless of age, gender, social or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or disability. We strive to provide a stimulating and inclusive work environment.

    About Inria

    Inria is the French national research institute dedicated to digital science and technology. It employs 2,600 people. Its 200 agile project teams, generally run jointly with academic partners, include more than 3,500 scientists and engineers working to meet the challenges of digital technology, often at the interface with other disciplines. The Institute also employs numerous talents in over forty different professions. 900 research support staff contribute to the preparation and development of scientific and entrepreneurial projects that have a worldwide impact.

    Instruction to apply

    CV + Cover letter

    Defence Security : This position is likely to be situated in a restricted area (ZRR), as defined in Decree No. 2011-1425 relating to the protection of national scientific and technical potential (PPST).Authorisation to enter an area is granted by the director of the unit, following a favourable Ministerial decision, as defined in the decree of 3 July 2012 relating to the PPST. An unfavourable Ministerial decision in respect of a position situated in a ZRR would result in the cancellation of the appointment.

    Recruitment Policy : As part of its diversity policy, all Inria positions are accessible to people with disabilities.

    Warning : you must enter your e-mail address in order to save your application to Inria. Applications must be submitted online on the Inria website. Processing of applications sent from other channels is not guaranteed.

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