Yoky Matsuoka is the former Vice President of Technology at Nest, where she was in charge of UX and the learning aspects of Nest’s thermostat. She is now working in Apple on undisclosed aspects of their health business.
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 that university’s Neurobotics Laboratory, director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. She is a 2007 MacArthur Fellow, commonly referred to as Genius Award. At UW, her research combined neuroscience and robotics—sometimes referred to by Matsuoka by the portmanteau neurobotics—to create more realistic prosthetics…
…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. Her intent is that nervous system signals would ultimately be able to control the electronic replica in the same manner as a natural appendage. 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 U.W. 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.