Former head of technology at Nest and one of the co-founders of Google’s experimental Google X, Yoky Matsuoka, has been hired by Apple to work on some of its health initiatives, Fortune reports. The famed robotics expert will be working under Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams on the company’s health projects which include HealthKit, ResearchKit, and the recently announced CareKit.
Having moved to the U.S. from Japan as a teenager, Matsuoka attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she became interested in building a tennis-playing robot and ultimately moved to MIT where she got a Ph.D. and helped develop a revolutionary robotic arm called “BarrettHand”. She then spent almost a decade in academia at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Washington in Seattle as a professor of robotics. She also won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for her work in neurorobotics in 2007.
Matsuoka left UW to help Google start its X lab project in 2009—only to join Rogers at Nest in 2010 as head of technology. At Nest, Matsuoka developed the user interface and learning algorithms for the company’s automated products. Google bought Nest in 2014, and Matsuoka announced she was leaving and headed to Twitter a year later, before she changed her mind due to the illness.
The robotics expert had said last year that she was healthy but was undecided about what to do next, according to her Medium post. “I am spending time with my family and working on some personal projects,” she wrote at the time.
Matsuoka said that she can’t imagine leaving the world of technology as it has always been a passion for her.