Prof. Sethuraman Panchanathan

Prof. Sethuraman Panchanathan,

Senior Vice President of Knowledge Enterprise, Director, Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing, Foundation Chair, Computing and Informatics

Prof Panchanathan moved to Arizona in 1997 as a tenured associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at ASU. In 2001, he was promoted to full professor and founded the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC), which is focused on designing technologies and devices for assisting individuals with disabilities. He also founded and led the School of Computing and Informatics (2006-2009) and the Department of Biomedical Informatics (2005-2007). Panchanathan was appointed as the university Chief Research Officer in 2009, where he was responsible for conceptualizing and building large interdisciplinary initiatives at ASU. In 2011, he was promoted to Senior Vice President of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, for the advancement of research, entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development activities.

His research interests include Human-centered Multimedia Computing (HCMC), assistive and rehabilitative technologies, haptic user interfaces, face/gait analysis and recognition, medical image processing, media processor designs and ubiquitous computing environments for enhancing quality of life for individuals with disabilities. His research contributions have been disseminated in over 425 papers in various refereed journals and conferences. He also mentored over 100 students and scholars, which include graduate students, post-docs, research engineers and research scientists.


  • Governor’s Innovator of the Year for Academia Award, Governor’s Celebration of
    Innovation Awards, Information Technology Centric Assistive and Rehabilitative
    Environments (iCARE) for Individuals who are Blind and Visually Impaired, Center
    for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing, 2004.
  • ASU Leadership Award, “Outstanding service and contributions to the ASU
    Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the School of Computing
    and Informatics”, 2009.
  • Academic Collaboration Award, Outstanding Contributions to Improving the lives of
    Individuals with Disabilities through the iCARE Research Project, ASU Disability
    Resources for Students, 2004.
  • Best paper award, “Configurable Haptic Training System for Laparoscopy”, at
    Medicine Meets Virtual Reality 16 Conference, CA, 2008.
  • Canadian Advanced Technology Association (CATA) Best Graduate Thesis Award,
    Masters Thesis student Mr. Eric Chan, Toronto, 1994.
  • Microsoft Imagine Cup 2010 for CUbiC iCARE Note-Taker Project, World Finals in
    Touch and Tablet category, Warsaw, Poland, 2010.

Excerpts from Interview with Prof Sethuraman Panchanathan (For full interview, please checkout TAP 2015 Book at

CK; What motivated you to start Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing, CUbiC?

SP: I asked myself the question in 2001, “How might I use computer science to help humanity?” Because I was really focused and wanting to do something because I said I am 39 years old now, going to be 40. I have gotten the fellowship of IEEE, which is reasonable. I had 200 papers by then but I said, “Do I want to publish another 300 papers, or do I want to do something different with my life?” So I said, “Why not I do something that can actually impact humanity?” So I therefore decided to start this research center for cognitive ubiquitous computing called CUbiC. And CUbiC is focused on designing technologies on devices for assisting individuals with disabilities. So the first disabilities that we focused on was blindness and visual impairment. So we said, “Can we assist individuals who are blind and visually impaired to be independent and successful members of society because they have access to higher education, they have access to good quality living, independent living?” And so that was the question that we addressed with the computing infrastructure.

CK: How was the journey of getting CUbiC started?

SP: It was a blast. Instead of imagining that I can solve the problem for the individuals with disabilities, we thought “why not be humble enough and ask the people with disabilities on what would they like me to do for them?” So therefore I put focus groups together who are post-secondary education students in ASU and their families and adults as a focus. And I had another focus group in Tucson, 100 miles from where the University of Arizona is, and there it was in the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind. So it was children, their parents, teachers, and asking them, “What is it that you want to do that can make your life more enriched?” Out of that, a lot of inputs came, and I distilled those inputs into projects. So one of the inputs that came from a kid in Tucson was, “Can I walk into a library, pick up a book, and read naturally as a sighted child does? Would it be possible?” So that set forth what I called as iCARE project. Imagine a world in which we can have cameras in the nose bridges of the glasses, and those cameras then become the window to the world, and they can pick a book and read, and that will be connected to their handheld device networked to that.

Prof Sethuraman Panchanathan’s TAP Tip For Success

Success is defined by excellence. Success is not whether you made million dollars, or whether you build a product that helps a blind person to read. It’s not just that. It’s whether you have been absolutely your personal best. So excellence is the only measure of success.