Who Will You Hear From at Smart Haptics 2019?

  • Dr. Nikhil Bajaj

    Engineering Consultant General Vibration Corporation

    Nikhil Bajaj received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, in 2008, 2011, and 2017, respectively. He has held research assistant positions on several projects in the areas of nonlinear dynamics, control systems, sensing and machine learning, computational design, and heat transfer. Dr. Bajaj has held a summer research position with Alcatel-Lucent Bell Laboratories, and serves as a mechatronics engineer in the areas of force sensing in gaming devices and the control of multi-actuator haptics with General Vibration Corporation. His technical interests include nonlinear dynamical and control systems, and the analysis and design of mechatronic systems, especially in the context of cyberphysical systems and how they interact with their users.

  • David Birnbaum

    Head of Design Strategy and Outreach Immersion Corp.

    David Birnbaum is a designer, inventor, and public speaker on the topics of emotional design, embodied communication, and immersive entertainment. Currently Head of Design Strategy and Outreach at Immersion Corporation, he’s spent the last 15 years designing apps, games, phones, wearables, musical instruments, automotive interfaces, medical devices, ads, and XR with haptic technology. Since feeling haptics for the first time in 2005, David has believed the power of touch technology, becoming more and more pervasive, is poised to change our society and our world. He wants to help make that happen.

  • Laura Bücheler

    CEO and Co-Founder GHOST – feel it

    Laura Bücheler is the CEO and Co-Founder of GHOST – feel it., a Berlin-based startup developing haptic user interfaces to broaden the human perception. She is a biomedical engineer and entrepreneur with a mission to connect different disciplines for the best results. Her experience in the sensor industry and development enables her to grow haptic user interfaces to their full potential.

  • Daniel Büttner

    CEO Lofelt

    Daniel Büttner is co-founder and CEO of Lofelt. Trained as a professional bass player, Daniel understood how resonance and vibration are key to creating natural experiences. Lofelt is pioneering natural haptics for immersive user experiences in consumer devices. They have developed intelligent software and wideband haptic actuators that raise the standard for high-definition haptic feedback. Founded in 2014 in Berlin, Germany, Lofelt launched the Basslet haptic wearable in 2016.

  • Stella Clarke

    Research Engineer, Future User Interaction Concepts BMW Group

    Since 2007, Stella has been working as a development engineer at BMW, with a focus on haptics and future interior concepts.

  • J. Edward Colgate

    Breed University Design Professor at Northwestern University Tanvas

    J. Edward Colgate is the Breed University Design Professor and a member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University, just outside of Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Colgate’s principal research interest is haptic interface.  He is the co-inventor of a class of collaborative robots known as “cobots” and a suite of technologies for bringing programmable haptic feedback to touch surfaces. He served as the founding Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics and is a Fellow of the IEEE and the National Academy of Inventors.

  • Nick Colonnese

    Research Scientist Facebook Reality Labs

    Nick Colonnese is a research scientist at Facebook Reality Labs where he conducts research focusing on haptic interaction in augmented and virtual reality. His interests span augmented and virtual reality, sensor fusion and optimization, haptic design and control, and novel input devices and paradigms. He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.

  • Tony Doy

    Technology Manager Cirrus Logic

    Tony Doy joined Cirrus Logic in 2017 as a Technology Manager.  He studied at Middlesex University in London and pursued a career in analog and mixed signal audio electronics design, moving from the UK to California in 1996.  Joining Maxim Integrated in 2000, he was key in growing the Audio Business Unit for the company, also gaining some early exposure to haptic control electronics.  After a brief period at wireless speaker manufacturer SONOS, he returned to semiconductors at Cirrus, one of his focus technology areas being haptics.

  • Alex Driskill-Smith

    President, North America Ultraleap

    Alex joined Ultrahaptics – now Ultraleap – in 2016 and heads up the US office, which opened in April 2017.  and heads up the US office, which opened in April 2017. In his previous role as Senior Director of Strategy and Business Development at Samsung, he led a team supporting innovations and investments. He holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from the University of Cambridge, an M.B.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and right issued and pending patents.

  • Elizabeth Gazda

    CEO Embr Labs

    Liz is the CEO of Embr Labs, a Boston-based company that produces the Embr Wave – a wrist-worn, temperature-based wellness device. At Embr Labs, Liz has played a pivotal role in shifting the company’s focus from comfort toward wellness by leveraging Embr’s deep understanding of temperature’s effect on psychophysiology and collaborating with J&J to examine the Embr Wave’s effect on sleep and hot flash relief for women.

    Prior to Embr Labs, Liz was a co-founder of several companies, including Doni, a fintech company, and Noteflight, a music technology company, and she has worked at a number of Boston’s technology “unicorns.” Liz began her career with Philips in the Netherlands, where she was responsible for driving innovation across multiple business units.

    Liz received her BA in Anthropology and International Relations from UC Berkeley. She also holds an International MBA from Nijenrode University in the Netherlands. Liz serves as an advisor and board member to several startups in iOT, software, and hardware.

  • Marcello Giordano

    Research Scientist Chatham Labs

    Marcello Giordano is a Research Scientist at Chatham Labs with a background in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Haptics. He received his PhD from McGill University in Canada, on his work in haptics in musical interaction and bringing the touch sensation back into the digital music realm. Now, in both his research and his applied work at Chatham, Marcello aims to bring the human experience of touch to the future of the digital world. Previously, Marcello was a HCI Researcher at Huawei Technologies, investigating haptics in the mobile space, and a Haptics Engineer for Ultrahaptics, where he worked on both research and customer projects leveraging Ultrahaptics’ mid-air haptic technology.

  • Dr. Mar Gonzalez-Franco

    Senior Researcher Microsoft Research

    Dr. Mar Gonzalez-Franco is a computer scientist at Microsoft Research. Her expertise and research spans from Virtual Reality to real-time systems, and her interests include the further understanding of human perception and behavior. Prior to pivoting into industrial research, she held several positions and completed her studies in leading academic institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University College London, Tsinghua University, and Universidad de Barcelona. Later, she also took roles as a scientist at the startup Traity.com to build mathematical models of trust. She created and led an Immersive Technologies Lab for the leading aeronautic company Airbus. At Microsoft, she participates in product definitions, helping envision not only current but also future devices and services. Over the years, her work has been covered by tech and global media such as Bloomberg, TechCrunch, The Verge, ABC News, GeekWire, Inverse, Euronews, El Pais, and Vice. She was named one in 25 young tech talents by Business Insider and continues to serve as a field expert for governmental organizations worldwide such as the NSF, the NSERC in Canada, and the EU evaluating Future and Emerging Technologies projects.

  • Phill LoPresti

    CEO Tanvas

    For more than 25 years, Phill has built, led, and motivated cross-functional teams to achieve a common goal. He has a proven track record of scaling businesses and driving revenue growth, strengthening IP portfolios for licensing, and navigating through M&A and IPO processes. Phill’s product experience encompasses memory, analog, mixed signal, and microcontroller products, including foundry and custom ASIC solutions for a broad range of applications. As President and Chief Executive Officer of Everspin, Phill expanded product sales to over $10M per quarter, established a long-term strategy and vision for the use of next generation products, negotiated several licensing agreements, and led a successful IPO. Prior to Everspin, Phill spent more than 20 years at NEC, where he expanded the ASIC technology business to more than $400M annually. Phill has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Boston University.

  • Maurizio Macagno

    CTO Sensoria Inc

    Maurizio (Mac) is a former software professional with over 20 years of development and technical program management experience in various technologies and industries. He joined Microsoft Italy in 1999, where he worked for 6 years as a consultant and solution architect for top Italian Microsoft customers in the banking, retail, military, telco, and manufacturing industries. He moved to the US in 2005 to later join Microsoft Xbox / Entertainment Division, where he served as a Senior Program Manager for Xbox LIVE services until 2013. He got the entrepreneurial bug and founded Green Tomatoes, a small startup focused on IT consulting and mobile application development. He then went on to co-found Sensoria Inc., one of the most innovative companies in wearable tech, where he serves as CTO.

  • Dr. Fotini Markopoulou

    Co-Founder and CEO doppel

    Dr. Fotini Markopoulou is a quantum gravity physicist and design engineer whose mission it is to use the science of interoception and psychophysiology to harness the mind and body connection and give a greater sense of control of how we feel and behave.

    As co-founder and CEO of doppel, Markopoulou has seen the company develop its first product, also called doppel, a wearable that helps to reduce stress and anxiety. She and her three co-founders met at The Royal College of Arts during a double Masters degree in design and engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, where they developed and tested a number of products that could impact the way humans feel using technology. They later developed the cutting-edge device, doppel, that changes how we perceive, feel, and behave.

    Worn on the inside of your wrist, the device works by creating silent vibrations that feel like a lub-dub of a heartbeat. It works with the body’s natural response to rhythm; faster tempos can increase focus, while slower rhythms have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Research showing doppel’s calming effect has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Scientific Reports. Just as an upbeat song gets you going and a down beat tempo chills you out, doppel can create the same effect but with no noise and no distraction.

    Markopoulou and her co-founders are focused on creating technology that works to support and enhance our human nature. Free from screens, monitoring and tracking, or reward mechanisms, they designed the doppel wristband as the antithesis of attention-grabbing, addictive technologies that have negative side effects on our emotional and physiological well-being.

    Prior to doppel, Markopoulou was a founding member and faculty at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada. While there, she was instrumental in growing the institute from 3 to 150 people, reaching $300 million in endowments. She has been a visiting professor at MIT and the Santa Fe Institute, as well as Humboldt fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Berlin.

  • Andrew Mitrak

    Director of Marketing HaptX

    Andrew Mitrak is the Director of Marketing at HaptX, the startup bringing touch to virtual reality and robotics. Andrew led HaptX's partnership announcement with Nissan Motor Co at SXSW 2019, where HaptX was a finalist for the Interactive Innovation Award. Andrew earned HaptX media coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Axios, TechCrunch, Newsweek, and Engadget. Andrew was a Lead Artist at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where a HaptX VR experience was an official selection. Andrew recently shared HaptX's Tactile Telerobot with Jeff Bezos at the Amazon re:MARS conference.

    Andrew has given guest lectures on emerging technology at MIT and the University of Washington. He's spoken at the Seattle Interactive Conference and the New Storytellers summit at the Phi Centre in Montreal.

    Prior to HaptX, Andrew wrote and directed films and advertisements. His short narratives, documentaries, and music videos have screened at festivals internationally. He produced award winning promotional videos for companies including Microsoft, Hasbro, and AT&T. Andrew earned his Master’s in Communication from the University of Washington in Seattle.

  • Alex Russomanno

    Co-Founder and CEO NewHaptics

    Alex Russomanno is Co-Founder and CEO of NewHaptics, a company dedicated to increasing the literacy and independence of blind people around the world by delivering low-cost refreshable braille and tactile display products. Alex is an original team member of the “Holy Braille Project” out of the University of Michigan, a research effort focused on the developing new technology to enable a tablet-like tactile display for the blind. His academic research focused on using microfluidics to enable the large-scale integration of small pressure-based actuators suitable for tactile displays.

  • Marc Scholz, PhD

    Senior System Engineer Cambridge Mechatronics

    Marc joined CML in 2015, initially working on the performance and control of CML’s OIS actuators and the early prototype development of CML’s AF+OIS technology. Today, he is responsible for the technical development of CML’s haptic actuators and their delivery into mass production.

    Marc has a degree in Physics from Cardiff University and a PhD in advanced composite materials from the University of Bristol.

  • Dr. Matthew Smith

    CSO, Co-Founder, and President Embr Labs

    Dr. Matthew Smith is the Chief Scientific Officer, Co-Founder, and President of Embr Labs, the first thermal wellness technology company. Since the company’s founding in 2014, Dr. Smith and his team have developed and patented a platform technology for delivering intelligent, low power, and wearable thermal experiences and commercialized Embr Wave, an intelligent bracelet that cools or warms you with the press of a button. Embr Wave achieved 6x its fundraising goal on Kickstarter in 2017, has since sold over 40,000 units, was named Time Best Invention in 2018, has been validated in the lab and in a clinical study, and led to a partnership with J&J. Dr. Smith leads IP development, core technology R&D, and thermal wellness science at Embr Labs. He will be speaking about his experiences starting a haptics company, lessons learned through constant engagement with customers, and the exciting and complex science underlying thermal sensations and their profound impact on our subjective human experiences. Prior to co-founding Embr Labs, Matt earned his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Materials Science & Engineering, where he co-authored over 20 publications, co-founded a technical consulting company, and received the department’s Best Ph.D. Thesis award for his work on nanostructured semiconductor devices.

  • Ethan Sturm

    Senior Manager, Strategic Markets Alps Alpine/Cirque Corporation

    Ethan Sturm is Sr. Manager of Marketing at Cirque Corporation, a subsidiary of Alps Alpine. Cirque is a human interface solutions company specializing in capacitive touch, as well as an R&D center for Alps Alpine.

    Ethan has been with Cirque for 11 years and has extensive experience in markets and strategy, particularly in personal computers, virtual reality, secure payment terminals, and human-machine interfaces. Prior to Cirque, Ethan worked as a technology consultant for 7 years.

    Ethan did his undergraduate work at the University of Utah and has a Certificate of Professional Development from the Wharton School. When not playing with the latest and greatest tech, Ethan can be found exploring the great Utah outdoors on skis or a mountain bike.

  • Tim Szeto

    CEO & Founder Nanoport Technology

    Tim Szeto is CEO and founder of Nanoport Technology, multiple patent holder, and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year nominee. Tim started programming at the age of 12 and built his first business – an interactive agency serving local businesses – at 15. In 2009, Tim launched NanodotsⓇ  Magnetic Constructors, an award-winning consumer product sold in over 40 countries.  

    Today, Tim combines his knowledge in software engineering and magnetics as the CEO of Nanoport Technology, an award-winning R&D Lab located in Silicon Valley developing future technologies for major players in the mobile industry.

  • Richard Vincent

    CEO FundamentalVR

    Richard has 20+ years’ experience in building international businesses, and he has, throughout his career, sought opportunities for positive market disruption through technological application. It was this desire that led him to co-found FundamentalVR to help address an age-old problem for the medical market: how to create safe, realistic, measurable spaces to learn and develop skills. In his role as CEO, Richard is responsible for building a world-class team of medical, learning, and technologists who together can realize the company’s ambition of creating the world’s first global, haptically-enabled, low-cost “flight simulator for surgeons.”

  • Reggie Wirjadi

    Director of Interaction Design Punchcut

    As Punchcut’s Director of Interaction Design, Reggie Wirjadi is driven by a strong purpose of shaping how design and technology help humanity thrive. He has over 19 years of experience working on a broad range of projects, brands, and industries.

    Reggie brings deep experience in user experience design, including interaction design, information architecture, visual design, sound design, haptics, and prototyping. Reggie is a leader in Punchcut’s Immersive Spaces Practice Area where he helps craft Punchcut strategic thinking and best practices for innovative design in emerging technologies.

    Reggie brings his years of experience designing connected, immersive experiences, including wearables and automotive experiences for clients such as T-Mobile, Fitbit, Visa, Ford, Samsung, Google, and Toyota. Prior to Punchcut, Reggie was Experience Director at Razorfish, and he holds a degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.