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I'm really not an authority on this, but to answer the question of "do I need a PhD", my view is that it depends on which 'part' of HCI you want to do.

Do you want to work on Project Soli at ATAP? Which part, the actual hardware / Radio antenna design? Then a PhD in analog design might be required to be qualified. Do you want to do the signal interpretation / analysis to detect gestures? Maybe a strong background in signals, filtering or even machine learning may be required.

HCI work can involve a lot of specific specialization which often requires these research / industry giants to demand a strong testament of your qualifications. Although not required, a PhD is often an easy way for them to see that.

If it is the more 'high-level' stuff, I'm not sure, as sometime a 'PhD in HCI' itself may be required (although I don't know too much what a 'PhD in HCI' entails)

Source: Experiences with HCI PhD's at UC Berkeley




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