Yoky Matsuoka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Yoky Matsuoka
Photo of Yoky Matsuoka
Yoky Matsuoka, 2011
Bornc. 1972
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1998, PhD)
AwardsMacArthur Fellows Program
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science
InstitutionsUniversity of Washington;
Carnegie Mellon University;
Barrett Technology;
Google Nest

Yoky Matsuoka (松岡陽子 Matsuoka Yōko, born c. 1972 in Japan) is the CTO of Google Nest. She was a co-founder of Google X and previously held roles as CEO of Quantus, as a technology leader at Apple, and as VP of Technology at Nest.[1][2][3][4][5]

Previously, she was an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an associate professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, director of Washington's Neurobotics Laboratory, director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. She is a 2007 MacArthur Fellow, commonly referred to as Genius Award. At University of Washington, her research combined neuroscience and robotics—sometimes referred to by Matsuoka by the portmanteau neurobotics—to create more realistic prosthetics.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

She was born in Japan and moved to California at the age of 16.[7] In her youth, she was a semi-professional tennis player, once ranking 21st in Japan,[8] but was eventually sidelined by injuries (she broke her ankle for the third time); her interest in robotics began with the idea of a robotic tennis player, which she later decided was unrealistic.[9]

She received her B.S. degree in 1993 from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.S. (1995) and PhD (1998) in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[6][10]


Outside academia, she was chief engineer at Barrett Technology in 1995 and 1996 where she developed the microcode for the BarrettHand. From 2001 to 2006, Yoky was an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University.[6] During this time, she held the Anna Loomis McCandless Faculty Chair (from 2004),[11] received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2004) and an IEEE Early Career Award in Robotics and Automation (2005), and was nominated for the MacArthur Fellowship (2006), winning and joining the class of 2007.[6][11] She continued her career at the University of Washington as an associate professor, and is currently working for Apple on wellness related products.[12]


Matthew O'Donnell, dean of the Washington College of Engineering characterizes her as "a mechanical engineer, neuroscientist, bioengineer, robotics expert and computer scientist, all in one… [with] …the ability to see what is possible by combining all these disciplines."[6] The MacArthur Foundation characterizes her work as "transforming our understanding of how the central nervous system coordinates musculoskeletal action and of how robotic technology can enhance the mobility of people with manipulation disabilities.[10]


In 2011, she joined Google X as one of its three founding members. There she helped on-boarding Babak Parviz (who led the Google Glass team) and developed Google X's portfolio in medical space. She then joined Nest as VP of Technology, in charge of machine learning and UX. There she led the development of the adaptive component of the Nest Thermostat, which is a key component of the product to date. Currently, she is an advisor to Brain of Things, that provides a home that learns. In 2015 she left for Apple and worked there until Dec 2016 on Apple's HealthKit tracking software, the CareKit tool for managing patient medical care, and the ResearchKit framework.[13] She is currently Chief Technology Officer at Nest.[4]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to a computer vision specialist[8] and has four children.[11]


  1. ^ "18 artificial intelligence researchers reveal the profound changes coming to our lives". Business Insider. October 26, 2015.
  2. ^ "10 Women in Tech to Watch in 2016". HuffPost. February 2, 2016.
  3. ^ "Apple Nabs Nest's Former Head of Technology". Fortune. May 3, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Robotics and Machine Learning Expert Yoky Matsuoka Returning to Nest After Leaving Apple". MacRumors. January 24, 2017.
  5. ^ "Google Ventures Adviser - Yoky Matsuoka". Google Ventures. Archived from the original on July 10, 2019. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e Hickey, Hannah. "UW computer engineer wins MacArthur Foundation 'genius' award". September 24, 2007. University of Washington Office of News and Information. Archived from the original on November 28, 2007. Retrieved December 5, 2007.
  7. ^ Neil Degrasse Tyson, Profile: Yoky Matsuoka, PBS, July 16, 2008. Accessed online August 4, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Sandi Doughton and Kyung M. Song, 2 local researchers win $500,000 MacArthur "genius awards", Seattle Times, September 24, 2007. Accessed online December 5, 2007.
  9. ^ Eric Wagner, MacArthur Foundation gives local researcher a hand Archived February 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Northwest Asian Weekly, November 3, 2007. Accessed online December 5, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Yoky Matsuoka Archived May 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, MacArthur Foundation. Accessed online December 5, 2007.
  11. ^ a b c Yoky Matsuoka Archived April 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, official page at the University of Washington. Accessed online December 5, 2007.
  12. ^ Statt, Nick (May 3, 2016). "Apple hires former Nest technology chief Yoky Matsuoka". The Verge. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  13. ^ "A Key Apple Health Technology Executive Has Left the Company". Bloomberg. December 2, 2016.

External links[edit]