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Troy McDaniel

Troy McDaniel

Assistant professor
PhD, computer science, Arizona State University, 2012

Areas of expertise and bio

Expertise: Haptic perception, haptic interface design, affective haptics, robotics, human-computer interaction, smart cities, machine learning

Troy McDaniel is passionate about how the science of our sense of touch — the field of haptics — can help people with disabilities. Since he was a senior in the undergraduate computer science program at ASU, he has contributed to and published award-winning research in assistive and rehabilitative technologies as part of ASU’s Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing, or CUbiC.

“The field of haptics has incredible potential for technological advancement and human augmentation,” McDaniel says. “The field is still in its infancy, so many exciting problems and questions remain.”

McDaniel’s research focus and areas of expertise extend well beyond the field of haptics, as he believes an interdisciplinary approach makes the biggest impact.

“The most exciting discoveries and innovations happen at the confluence of disciplines, so I’ve studied artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, robotics, psychology and neuroscience to enrich my haptics research,” he says.

McDaniel chose and stayed at ASU for several reasons: an innovative work environment, faculty members who are passionate, supportive and eager to collaborate, and the wealth of resources and opportunities ASU provides to nurture success.

In the fall, he joins The Polytechnic School faculty to teach courses in information technology, engineering, and human systems engineering. Students taking IFT 510: Principles of Computer and Information Technology Architecture should be prepared to gain an in-depth understanding of computer architecture, system software, operating systems, networking and other important related issues in an IT context. McDaniel says it will help students build a technical foundation to understanding how many current technologies work.

In 2018 and 2019, while working as an assistant research professor in the Fulton Schools, McDaniel earned Top 5% Teaching Awards, which recognize Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering faculty for outstanding contributions to education. The awards were for his teaching in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering.

This semester, he will complete a research project investigating how temperature and complex vibrotactile (sensing vibration through touch) patterns influence and evoke human emotion.

“These findings will aid the design of next-generation human-computer interfaces that engage our sense of touch,” McDaniel says.

Outside of the lab, McDaniel has taken his work to competitions. In 2019, he and Keep Calm, a team of ASU graduate students in computer science and biomedical engineering, won the ASU Virtual Reality Innovation Challenge for work in VR and wearable technologies to understand and overcome anxiety.

During his down time, McDaniel enjoys reading, racquetball, table tennis and rock climbing, and he’s currently learning Japanese.