Watch: The Rise of Robotics in L.A. Can Machines Learn Human Emotions?

The creator of the emotive robot called "Moxie" sees a new wave of machines that recognize human emotions and will change how business is done.

"We are seeing a future that's a lot better than the dystopian future of robots taking over the world," Paolo Pirjanian, founder and chief executive officer at Embodied, Inc. told dot.LA in a virtual strategy session on May 5.


The session, featuring Pirjanian and Calibrate Ventures co-founder Jason Schoettler, featured discussion of Los Angeles' role in making the next wave of emotionally intelligent robots, the ethical dilemmas of having machine companions and how social robots will change people's lives.

Watch below, and sign up for our newsletter to be notified of new strategy sessions.

Strategy Session: The Rise of Robotics www.youtube.com

Dr. Paolo Pirjanian, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Embodied, Inc.

Dr. Paolo Pirjanian, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Embodied, Inc.

Dr. Paolo Pirjanian oversees technology, research and advanced development. Prior to joining iRobot, he served as chief executive officer of Evolution Robotics, Inc. for seven years. Before that, Pirjanian was the company's chief technology officer. Earlier in his career, he worked as a lecturer in the computer science department at the University of Southern California and as a researcher at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he received the Technical Leadership Award. Pirjanian is the former U.S. chairman of IEEE Robotics and received the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award in 2004. He holds a Ph.D. in robotics from Aalborg University.

Jason Schoettler, Partner at Calibrate Ventures

Jason Schoettler, Partner at Calibrate Ventures 

Jason Schoettler is a partner at Calibrate Ventures, a venture capital firm he co-founded in 2017.

He leads investments for Calibrate Ventures across its areas of focus: advanced automation, B2B SaaS, and managed marketplaces, including its investments in Alpha, Built Robotics, Embodied, FarmWise, Pared and XStream Trucking.

Jason has a proven track-record of identifying disruptive businesses and facilitating their development while generating outsized returns. Before forming Calibrate, he served as a Managing Director for over a decade at Shea Ventures, where he was responsible for numerous investments with notable exits, including: Dollar Shave Club (acquired by Unilever), Evolution Robotics (acquired by iRobot), Osmo (acquired by Byju's), SI-BONE (SIBN), and VictorOps (acquired by Splunk).

Prior to Shea Ventures, Jason served in an operating role at Oak Grove Systems, an enterprise software spin-out from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech, and as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.

Jason grew up in Central California and holds a BA from University of Notre Dame and MBA from Claremont Graduate University.

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On this week's episode of LA Venture, hear from Marcos Gonzalez, the managing partner at Vamos Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund which invests in Latino and diverse founders. Over half of L.A. County is Latino. A relatively new fund, investments are in the range of $100,000 to $500,000. Seems like a great time to be investing in this community! And, Vamos is hiring...

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El Segundo-based telemedicine technology provider Cloudbreak Health and Florida-based UpHealth Holdings, a digital healthcare provider, announced they will combine and go public via a SPAC in a deal that values the combined companies at $1.35 billion.

Named UpHealth, Inc., the new company aims to streamline online health care by becoming a single provider of four different services: telehealth, teletherapy, a health care appointment and management system and an online pharmacy.

UpHealth runs healthcare platform Thrasys Inc. and MedQuest Pharmacy, along with two other behavioral health companies. The merger with Cloudbreak, which under the pandemic expanded their interpretation services to remote medicine, will give the new company a foothold in almost 2,000 hospitals.

"What we wanted to do was form a business that could really be a digital infrastructure for health care across the continuum of care, right from home to hospital," said Jamey Edwards, the co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak. Under the agreement, he will become the company's chief operating officer.

GigCapital2 expects the merger transaction to close at the start of Q1 2021. UpHealth will be publicly traded under the ticker "UPH" on the New York Stock Exchange. UpHealth's integrated care management platform serves over 5 million people, and is expected to reach 40 million over the next three years, according to the company.

Jamey Edwards, Cloudbreak

Jamey Edwards, co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak

COVID-19 caused a meteoric growth in the use of telehealth services. In February, 0.1% of Medicare primary visits were provided through telehealth. In April, that number was nearly 44%, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Key stakeholders have seen and responded well to the benefits that telemedicine can bring, but they need a more comprehensive, integrated solution," said Al Gatmaitan, who has been named the co-chief executive officer of UpHealth. "This is what UpHealth focuses on, the adoption of digital health solutions well beyond the pandemic crisis."

The deal with the blank check company GigCapital2 gives the two digital health companies access to a wider network. UpHealth and its family of companies operate in 10 countries and their pharmacy has 13,000 e-prescribers in the U.S.


UpHealth will use the Cloudbreak platform as part of their global telehealth services to provide patients with round-the-clock care under a variety of specialties, including telepsychiatry and tele-urology. UpHealth also has contracts internationally, to provide country-wide care in India, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Edwards joined Cloudbreak in 2008 when it went from public to private. It has raised $35 million in venture funds, most recently in the first quarter of this year scoring $10 million from Columbia Partners Private Capital.

Ryan Edwards, the co-founder of Happier Camper, said he's asked all the time if his company leans on influencer marketing to promote their vintage-style trailers beloved by millennials.

With a waitlist six months out and demand growing from hotel-weary travelers, he said it isn't a priority yet.

"We almost don't need to," said Edwards.

That's because the $25,000 to $50,000 custom trailers have been a hit with a loyal fan base, and rising demand during the pandemic has only helped. Orders for compact trailers at the lower price end, including Happier Camper's 75-square-foot camper, are growing as newbie road trippers look for COVID-safe travels.

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