Yoky Matsuoka, 2011
University of California, Berkeley|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1998, PhD)
|Awards||MacArthur Fellows Program|
University of Washington;|
Carnegie Mellon University;
Yoky Matsuoka (born c. 1972 in Japan) is the former Vice President of Technology at Nest, where she was in charge of UX[clarification needed] and the learning aspects of Nest's thermostat. In 2016, she was working at Apple, but has since returned to Nest as Chief Technology Officer.
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.
Early life and education
She was born in Japan and moved to California at the age of 16. In her youth, she was a semi-professional tennis player, once ranking 21st in Japan, 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.
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.
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. During this time, she held the Anna Loomis McCandless Faculty Chair (from 2004), 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. She continued her career at the University of Washington as an associate professor, and is currently working for Apple on wellness related products.
An example of her work is a lifelike robotic hand, modeled bone-by-bone from a human hand, with multiple motors each corresponding to muscles and with strings playing the role of tendons along each digit. Popular videos of the actuation of these robotic hands involve graduate students pulling on the artificial tendons outside of the camera view. Her intent is that nervous system signals would ultimately be able to control the electronic replica in the same manner as a natural appendage. While at Stanford University, she was a coinvestigator on a grant to produce working versions of her lifelike robotic hands. Despite receiving funding, she never produced functional robotic hands. She subsequently left to pursue a series of rapidly changing industrial positions. Many of her graduate students were left without mentors following her departures from Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University. To this end, her work uses such means as measuring the electric current along each muscle in the hand as a person reaches for and grasps an object and having patients do virtual reality exercises with an oversized arm so that errors are more apparent. 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." 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.
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. She is currently Chief Technology Officer at Nest.
- "18 artificial intelligence researchers reveal the profound changes coming to our lives". Business Insider. 26 Oct 2015.
- "Apple Nabs Nest's Former Head of Technology". Fortune. 3 May 2016.
- "Robotics and Machine Learning Expert Yoky Matsuoka Returning to Nest After Leaving Apple". MacRumors. 24 Jan 2017.
- Hickey, Hannah. "UW computer engineer wins MacArthur Foundation 'genius' award". September 24, 2007. University of Washington Office of News and Information. Retrieved December 5, 2007.
- Neil Degrasse Tyson, Profile: Yoky Matsuoka, PBS, July 16, 2008. Accessed online August 4, 2012.
- 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.
- 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.
- Yoky Matsuoka Archived May 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., MacArthur Foundation. Accessed online December 5, 2007.
- Yoky Matsuoka, official page at the University of Washington. Accessed online December 5, 2007.
- Statt, Nick. "Apple hires former Nest technology chief Yoky Matsuoka". The Verge. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- "A Key Apple Health Technology Executive Has Left the Company". Bloomberg. 2 Dec 2016.
- Official page at the University of Washington
- Microsoft Research, Understanding Human Movements to Enhance HCI Environments, Research Channel, September 29, 2005, 1:18:20 video about Matsuoka
- Neurobotics Laboratory, archived site of her Neurobiotics Laboratory at CMU.
- UW Neurobotics Laboratory, archived site for UW Neurobotics Laboratory
- Neuralengineering Center, nascent Pacific Northwest research collaboration center
- Yoky Matsuoka on the site of the MacArthur Foundation.