Troy McDaniel

Troy McDaniel

Assistant Professor in Engineering at Arizona State University

Haptic Interfaces: Theory, Design, and Applications

Wednesday, December 4
11AM – 12PM
Peralta Hall, Room 130


Situations of sensory overload are steadily becoming more frequent as the ubiquity of technology approaches reality. Although the ease of accessing information has improved our communication effectiveness and efficiency, our visual and auditory modalities—those modalities that today’s computerized devices and displays largely engage—have become overloaded, creating possibilities for distractions, delays and high cognitive load. Surprisingly, alternative modalities for information delivery have seen little exploration. Touch, in particular, is a promising candidate given that it is our largest sensory organ with impressive spatial and temporal acuity. Although some approaches have been proposed for touch-based information delivery, they are not without limitations including high learning curve, limited applicability and/or limited expression. This is largely due to the lack of a versatile, comprehensive design theory. This talk explores the theory and design of haptic interfaces, and proposes a framework to address the design of touch-based building blocks for expandable, efficient, rich and robust touch languages that are easy to learn and use. A number of case studies from assistive and rehabilitative technology application areas are presented to highlight how this framework has been employed and evaluated. Some specific applications that will be covered in detail include social interaction assistants for individuals who are blind; and wearable technologies for motor learning and rehabilitation. Other topics that will be touched upon include surgical simulators, tactile vision sensory substitution, and haptic intelligence. Finally, directions for future work will be proposed and discussed.


Troy McDaniel is an Assistant Professor in Engineering at Arizona State University. He is the Director of the HAPT-X Laboratory and the Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC). McDaniel’s research interests include haptic interfaces, robotics, smart cities, human-computer interaction, and machine learning, especially for haptics. He is particularly interested in tactile vision sensory substitution and haptic human augmentation. His current research investigates how information traditionally presented visually and/or aurally may be presented haptically through novel touch-based interfaces. His application focuses include assistive technologies for individuals with sensory impairments, rehabilitative technologies for individuals with physical impairments, and technologies to support health, wellness, and smart living.