University of Dundee and Mozilla announce doctoral programme for ‘Healthier IoT’

The University of Dundee and Mozilla have launched a new and innovative PhD programme exploring how to build a more open, secure and trustworthy Internet of Things.

The OpenDoTT (Open Design of Trusted Things) scheme will train technologists, designers, and researchers to create and advocate for safe connected products and is made possible by €1.5m in funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.

As IoT evolves, the internet becomes more deeply entwined in humans’ everyday lives. Data flows around us in ever more complex ways – wearable technologies monitor our heartbeat, AI voice assistants cohabit our kitchens and our children’s bedrooms, smart cities know our every move, and facial recognition determines our access across country borders.

These technologies need to be built responsibly, and this practice requires the cultivation of design research and advocacy. OpenDoTT addresses this need on a systems level. By training the very people who will develop and influence IoT technology, we can create positive change that starts at the drawing board.

The challenges of the Internet of Things (IoT) require interdisciplinary thinking. And so the programme will be hosted across several locations with training by leading organisations in different fields. The doctoral researchers will begin learning about design research at the University of Dundee then move to Mozilla’s office in Berlin to focus on internet health.

Project coordinator Jon Rogers, Professor of Creative Technology at the University of Dundee and a Mozilla Fellow, said, “This programme is a game-changer for the future of IoT because it’s about developing leadership. Change happens through people, and this project will bring future leaders together for a radical training programme that is located between university research and industry advocacy.”

Dr Nick Taylor of the University of Dundee added, “This project builds on our long-term collaboration with Mozilla and provides an amazing platform to make a real difference in the IoT landscape. These doctoral researchers represent a huge boost to Dundee’s growing capacity for design-led IoT research.”

Throughout their studies, the researchers will receive training on open hardware from Officine Innesto; field research from Quicksand and STBY; internet policy from the Berlin University of the Arts; responsible IoT from Thingscon; and usable security from SimplySecure.

The University of Dundee will lead training in design research, building on their world-class work on the Internet of Things, co-creation, and craft technology. Dundee’s past projects have explored the future of voice assistants in the home and IoT for independent retailers.

Mozilla will lead training around open technology and healthy internet practices. Mozilla focuses on fuelling the movement for a healthy internet by connecting open internet leaders with each other and by mobilising grassroots activists around the world.

Michelle Thorne, the programme coordinator at Mozilla, said, “With training at the intersection of design, technology and policy, OpenDoTT will produce a cohort of leaders in the internet health movement who are uniquely qualified to steer the field not only toward what is possible, but what is also responsible.”

The programme will begin recruiting doctoral trainees in late 2018, and the first five trainees will begin in July 2019. Further details can be found on the project website, where potential applicants can register their interest.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 813508.