Semio is a Los Angeles-based software startup defining the way in which people will live, work, and play with robots in their everyday lives. Semio is developing an operating system, app ecosystem, and developer tools for personal robots. Semio software allows robot developers to rapidly create and deploy robot apps, and allows robot end-users to transparently access and use those robot apps via natural communication, including both speech and body language. What Microsoft Windows did for personal computing—what Android did for smartphones—Semio is doing for personal robots.
Dr. Ross Mead received his PhD and MS in Computer Science from the University of Southern California in 2015, and his BS in Computer Science from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2007. Ross’s work focuses on the principled design and computational modeling of fundamental social behaviors (e.g., speech, gestures, eye gaze, social spacing, etc.) that serve as building blocks for automated behavior recognition and generation in face-to-face human-robot interactions. Beyond Semio, he also serves on the Board of Directors for two nonprofit organizations: AI LA and the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics. Previously, Ross also served as a technical and scientific advisor to Disney, Intel, and National Geographic, among others.
Doug Dooley was a character animator at Pixar for 13 years, and worked on such films as Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, Incredibles, Ratatouille, Cars 2, and Brave, among others. Previously, he animated commercials and special effects at Blue Sky Studios, as well as the Oscar-winning short, “Bunny.” In 2013, Doug left Pixar to pursue his dream of helping robots appear as alive as the characters he animated at Pixar. He started by working at Willow Garage a year before it closed. Currently, Doug is a freelance animator and consultant for robotics and animation companies in the Bay Area; a few clients include Google, Pixar, and Mayfield Robotics. He also has a YouTube Channel called Perky Jeff to showcase how to give personality to robots.
Edmond Macaluso is an entrepreneur and investor who has built companies successfully, including selling one of his startups to Mentor Graphics in 2012. Currently, he is President of NGAUGE VENTURES, providing investment and expertise on topics including fundraising, strategic planning, operational structure, business development, contract review, and negotiations. Edmond earned a BS and MS in EECS from Texas A&M University, and completed the Business Administration program at UC Berkeley Extension. He has development experience in automation systems, voice systems, and design automation algorithms. Edmond has a passion for new technologies, and feels that vision, company culture, fun, and social responsibility are critical parts of companies.
Braden McDorman received his BS in Computer Science from the University of Oklahoma in 2015, and was a Computer Science PhD student and labmate with Ross at USC; in January 2017, he left the PhD program to pursue Semio full-time. Previously, Braden worked at Microsoft working on computer architectures and software drivers, as well as Disney Research developing socially interactive robot technologies; he has extensive experience in robotics, machine learning, and software engineering. Braden worked as the lead software engineer for the Botball Educational Robotics Program for three years, developing the robot platform and open-source software tooling (e.g., GUIs, SDKs, compilers, and drivers) used by tens-of-thousands of K-12 students worldwide.
Farzin Samadani is an entrepreneur and expert in early stage startups, Lean methodologies, and Lean business processes. His specialties include product development, customer discovery, business model generation, business development, operations, team-building, sales and marketing. Farzin is currently an Entrepreneur-In-Residence for the City of Los Angeles, where he is developing a strategy to prepare Angelenos for the Future of Work. He also serves as a National Instructor for the NSF I-Corps program, where he instructs technology teams from across the US on the tenants of business model canvas and customer discovery.
Shane Spinell is a seasoned professional in investment banking, private equity, and hedge fund investing, with more than a decade of experience analyzing, sourcing, and investing in public and private businesses. Shane is an active startup advisor focused on driving business strategy, financing, and organization from seed to exit.