Yoky Matsuoka won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award while at UW for her work using robotics to help people with disabilities.
Yoky Matsuoka, who won the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” award while she was a University of Washington professor, has joined Apple to work on the company’s health-tech initiatives.
Matsuoka is a well-known, successful roboticist who helped found Google X, the research division of Google that created its self-driving car. She taught at UW for five years before leaving to join the tech business world, first at Google, then at smart-home company Nest.
Fortune reports Matsuoka will work for Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams and help on health projects, which include initiatives to use apps and mobile devices in health care.
While at UW, Matsuoka, who moved to the U.S. from Japan when she was 16 to pursue a tennis career, studied how robotics could help people with disabilities. Her work involved linking brain functions to robotics.
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“I got so fascinated by it,” she told The Seattle Times in 2007, “and by the people who could improve their quality of life with the help of robots, people with spinal-cord injuries, Parkinson’s and other conditions.”
Matsuoka was set to take on a vice-president role at Twitter last year before she was diagnosed with a “life-threatening illness” and took time off work to get treatment and be with her family, she said in a Medium post. The treatments have been working, she wrote.
Matsuoka has started at Apple, according to her LinkedIn page.