I am a human-robot interaction specialist with over a decade of professional experience in applying social science concepts and methods to the design of robotic systems. At Hoku Labs, I translate human-robot interaction research into actionable recommendations for the design of robotic products and services. My clients include Fortune 100 companies, tech startups, and non-profit organizations. I have contributed to over a dozen robot products that have shipped, including drones in the air; industrial, service, and consumer robots on the ground; and uncrewed robotic systems in the ocean. The people who interact with those robots include everyone from professional robot operators to minimally informed customers to completely untrained bystanders. To do these projects, I most often collaborate with engineering, design, product, operations, and executive teams.
From 2016-2022, I worked as a professor at UC Santa Cruz, earning tenure in 2018. Prior to joining the UC Santa Cruz faculty, I was a senior user experience researcher at GoogleX, a lab that aims for moonshots in technology and science. Prior to joining GoogleX, I was a research scientist and area manager for human-robot interaction at Willow Garage.
In 2008, I completed my PhD in Communication at Stanford University. I also hold a PhD minor in Psychology from Stanford, MA in Communication from Stanford, and BAs in Psychology and Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley (2003). During grad school, I worked as a research assistant in the User Interface Research (UIR) group at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). I have published over 60 peer-reviewed conference and journal papers; patented inventions; and received early career awards from the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society, World Economic Forum, and MIT Technology Review (TR35).
For a quick overview of my work, check out this 13-minute TEDx presentation, 3.5-minute TR35 montage, 5-minute Pop!Tech presentation, or this brief article I wrote for Tech Review. For a more in-depth perspective, here’s an NPR All Things Considered piece about our personal robotics work, a 60-minute presentation I gave at University of Toronto, and a 60-minute presentation I recently gave at UC Berkeley about Mixing Human and Robotic Agents.
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