Apple hires GoogleX lab co-founder Yoky Matsuoka
05 May 2016
Apple has hired robotics star and GoogleX lab co-founder Yoky Matsuoka to work on health projects. Mastuoka left her job as a vice president of technology at Google-owned Nest last year.
The winner of the MacArthur Fellowship, also called the "Genius Grant", had planned to take a job at Twitter, which was derailed by a "life-threatening illness," Matsuoka wrote in an online post at medium.com.
"A new future has begun to fill my mind again," she wrote at the time, saying medical treatment was working and she had yet to work out new plans for her future.
"When you get another chance at life, there's an opportunity to start from scratch and I feel so lucky to have this."
Matsuoka will report to Apple CEO Jeff Williams, who has oversight of health projects, including software kits that allow application makers of researchers to leverage the capabilities of the iPhone and the Apple Watch.
According to The MacArthur Foundation website, Matsuoka is a leader in the field of neurorobotics, which combines robotics with how the human nervous system coordinates muscle and skeletal movements.
Matsuoka helped start GoogleX Lab in 2009, devoted to "moonshots" such as self-driving cars and internet-linked eyewear.
According to commentators, the move would support Apple's plan to expand its health technology team.
Apple Insider said Matsuoka developed interest in robotics, while attending the University of California, Berkeley.
Matsuoka developed software for the BarrettHand prosthetic at Barrett Technology and won several awards for robotics and neuroscience research.
Matsuoka also taught robotics courses at the University of Washington in Seattle and at Carnegie Mellon University.
She moved to Google in 2009 and helped build the X research and development lab.
The following year she became head of technology at Nest, where she created the learning algorithms and user interface for the Learning Thermostat. After the acquisition of Nest by Google in 2014, Matsuoka left the company.
According to Fortune, Matsuoka was working on health initiatives at Apple, but it was not yet clear on what projects the robotics expert would be working. The high-tech company is currently working on a number of health-related projects.