About HIA Technologies, Inc.
HIA Technologies, Inc. was founded with the mission to vastly expand the ways businesses reach their audiences, allowing them to have intimate, personalized, conversations in an efficient, precise, and low-cost manner.
HIA's Embodied AI technology is a transformative user interface that allows artificially intelligent interactive characters to conduct sophisticated conversations with people, educate them, ask and answer questions, and report back on the interactions.
A result of 20+ years of research in human-computer interaction, digital humans, AI, and XR, HIA's products allow businesses to quickly create and deploy such conversations at scale, opening the door to endless opportunities for engagement with their constituents.
Meet the team
Chief Executive Officer
Vacit is known for pioneering leading-edge technologies in fields ranging from semiconductors and software to medical and defense. His extensive experience includes leadership roles in engineering, operations, and business management, including international experience with Japanese, European, Chinese, Korean, and Israeli corporations.
Vacit's tenure includes Samsung Semiconductor, LSI Logic, Honeywell, Silicon Value (CEO), Microfabrica (CEO), Crosspoint, On-Chip Systems (CEO), and Vantage Surgical CEO). He holds a BSEE from the University of Birmingham, U.K., and an MSEE from the University of Houston, TX. He has 13 issued patents; and over 25 pending applications.
ALIDAD GHIASSI, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Ghiassi is an orthopedic surgeon with subspecialty training in hand and upper extremity surgery at Keck Medical Center of USC. Dr. Ghiassi is the Chief of Hand and Upper Extremity Service at USC-LAC Medical Center. His practice has an emphasis on hand and upper extremity injuries with a special interest in complex wrist and hand trauma. He sees patients with a variety of complex hand and upper extremity conditions at one of the few level 1 trauma centers in Southern California, while also maintaining a community-based practice at the USC Westwood Hand Center.
He completed his orthopedic training at USC Keck School of medicine and did additional training in Hand and Microvascular surgery at UCLA Medical Center. In 2000 he joined the UCLA Orthopedic Faculty as the chief of Hand and Upper Extremity service at VA West Los Angeles Medical Center. In 2008 he joined the USC Department of Orthopedic Surgery and has since opened up his own private practice in West Los Angeles.
Chief Creative Officer, VP Strategy
Richard is an eight-time finalist and two-time Primetime Emmy® winner for "Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television" and "Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Media Technology." For over 20 years, Richard has been a successful entrepreneur, thought leader, and creative technologist. As the founder of a media products and services company (now a part of Ericsson), he led numerous ground-breaking interactive media initiatives for Time Warner, Viacom, AOL, Sony, Disney, ABC, FOX, Comedy Central, MTV, Intel, Omnicom, Microsoft, and many others.
Richard co-chairs the Experience Design Working Group at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, promoting industry innovation and excellence in XR, UX, VUI, XUI, and AI. Richard was honored by the Hollywood Reporter/Producers Guild of America's year-end "Digital 50" outstanding media professionals and Streaming Magazine's "Fifty Most Influential People in Streaming."
VP Marketing & Content Development
Jolean Sheffield joins HIA with 20 years of experience developing, deploying and supporting health information technology (HIT) solutions and healthcare project management leadership. Career highlights include helping to establish and grow the first physician-focused clinical informatics program for the Baylor Scott & White Healthcare system, co-designing The Heart Hospital of Baylor Plano's pioneering multi-region Acute Aortic Emergency Protocol, winning the HCA Innovators Award for Patient Engagement Application Technology, and designing one of the first COVID-19 Triage chatbots used by 200+ hospitals across the United States.
As an Emergency Medical Technician Jolean has served patients directly with specialization in pediatric oncology and ER trauma. She has also enjoyed volunteering for the American Red Cross's Disaster Health Services team where she leads response management and direct care during times of national emergency and natural disasters.
Director of Engineering
Blake has spent his entire career engineering User Experiences and Products for Video Games, AI Systems, and Middleware tools. For over a decade, Blake has been bringing gaming concepts into modern day applications to gamify the world. Throughout his career, Blake has successfully launched technology startups such as Livestalk as well as aiding in the advancements of AI and Machine Learning technologies such as IBM’s Watson.
Before HIA, Blake was the Engineering Leader for Faceware Technologies, the leading Facial Motion Capture Technology which focused on rapid animation generation for Video Game Studios and Animation Studios World Wide. The products under Blake’s direction ensured that industry leaders such as Electronic Arts, 2k Studios, Cloud Imperium, Disney, and Nickelodeon were able to increase the quality and speed of their animation content. While at IBM, Blake led RnD initiatives to build experiences around the Watson Artificial Intelligence Service. These initiatives are used today to drive platforms and experiences for clients such as Woodside Energy, Softbank, Ameritrade, and The Weather Company.
HIA Advisory Board
DANNY LANGE, Ph.D
VP of AI and Machine Learning at Unity
Danny joined Unity from Uber, where he was the head of machine learning, leading the efforts to build the world's most versatile Machine Learning platform to support Uber's hyper-growth. Previously, he was the General Manager of Amazon Machine Learning — an AWS product that offers Machine Learning as a Cloud Service.
Before Amazon, he was Principal Development Manager at Microsoft, where he led a product team focused on large-scale Machine Learning for Big Data. He also spent eight years on Speech Recognition Systems, first as CTO of General Magic, Inc., then through his work on General Motor's OnStar Virtual Advisor, one of the largest deployments of an intelligent personal assistant until Siri. Danny started his career as a Computer Scientist at IBM Research. He holds MS and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the Technical University of Denmark. He is a member of the ACM and IEEE Computer Societies and has several patents to his credit.
STEVE LAVALLE, Ph.D
Steve is a renowned entrepreneur and a professor with deep expertise in a broad set of technologies, including VR, robotics, computer vision, filtering, sensor fusion, AI, control systems, and perceptual psychology. Until recently, he was the Chief Scientist of VR/AR/MR at Huawei, and before that, the Chief Scientist at Oculus VR until its $2 billion Facebook acquisition in 2014.
Since 2001, he has been a professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while also teaching courses at Stanford and Iowa State. He has three books published on VR and robotics and over 150 scientific articles. Steve holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois.
Futurist in Residence—Paramount Pictures
Prior to Paramount, Ted was the Futurist at 20th Century Fox, where he worked on the evolving art and science of advanced motion picture creation. Ted was founding member, first employee, and integral part of the product development team at RED Digital Cinema, which has made a significant impact on the Motion Picture Industry, with many of the world's biggest movies being shot with these ultra-high-resolution digital movie cameras.
He is also one of the founders and creators of the G-Tech product line of advanced hard drive storage products that are implemented worldwide for professional Television and Multimedia content creation. He has been featured in Wired, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, NBC, Studio Daily, Videography, Film and Video, DV magazine, TV Technology, HD Video Pro Magazine, Digital Television Magazine, Engadget, Gizmodo, Millimeter, American Cinematographer, MacWorld, Post magazine, Popular Science, LA Times and countless other trade publications and mainstream press, discussing technology and product advancements in his areas of expertise.
TODD CARLISLE, Ph.D
Todd Carlisle is currently the VP of People at Ipsy, an online beauty subscription, and media company. Before that, as the VP of HR at Twitter, he led the global teams of HR Business Partners, People Analytics, HR Systems, and Recruiting.
Before Twitter, Todd spent 11 years at Google, where he founded the People Analytics team, was a Director of Recruiting whose teams hired 5000 people, and acted as a Director of HR for the Trust & Safety team. His work at on topics such as scientific hiring, the wisdom of crowds, and performance management has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Public Radio, and the Harvard Business Review. Todd has a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Texas A&M University.
ARNAUD ROBERT, Ph.D
Arnaud is a digital strategist, innovator, and builder of engaging consumer experiences. He has led multiple large-scale digital transformations for Fortune 100 companies and created numerous consumer innovations such as the Apple Watch | Nike+ running app. He is currently Chief Digital Officer at Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, where he leads the global digital, data, and technology groups. Before Sanofi, he was Chief Digital Officer for Viking Cruises and has held senior positions at Nike, The Walt Disney Company, Shaw Communications, Technicolor, and Microsoft. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Swiss Institute of Technology, has filed 50 patents, and is an advisor to startups and entrepreneurs.
He has gained industry recognition as a member of the World Economic Forum Media Council and a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Arnaud holds an engineering degree from the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, a Master in Engineering from the Swiss Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Swiss Institute of Technology.
SHEILA NAZARIAN, MD
Dr. Nazarian is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with a private practice in Beverly Hills. She has a BA in economics with a premedical concentration from Columbia University, after which she matriculated into Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and also completed a Masters in Medical Management degree from the Marshall School of Business at USC.
She also serves as Assistant Professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Southern California. She is the founder of Nazarian Plastic Surgery, Spa26, The Skin Spot e-commerce site, and the Nazarian Institute, where she brings thought leaders to teach entrepreneurs how to ThinkBIG! – Branding, Innovation, Growth.
STEVEN D. SCHWAITZBERG MD, FACS
Dr. Steven Schwaitzberg is a nationally recognized pioneer of minimally invasive surgery. He is currently the Professor and Chairman, Department of Surgery, University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine, and the Director of Surgical Programs at Great Lakes Health. Before UB, he was a Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, Northeastern University, and Tufts University.
He has also recently served as the President of SAGES (Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons). This national organization works to improve patient care and advance the field of surgery. Dr. Schwaitzberg has undergone extensive training in minimally invasive surgery and has performed thousands of cases, teaching surgeons around the world.
Bill has been recognized repeatedly as one of Southern California's "Super Lawyers" by the editors of Law and Politics Magazine and for more than 20 years by Best Lawyers in America, a publication of Woodward White. Bill is currently a Board Member of Cedars Sinai Health System and a Board of Trustees and past Chairman of Torrance Memorial Medical Center.
Born in Galveston, Texas, Bill graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he was President of Sid Richardson College and Chairman of the University's Honor Council. He has a J.D. degree from Tulane University in New Orleans. He is currently admitted to practice law in the courts of Texas, Louisiana, and California. Before joining a private law practice on the U.S. West Coast, Bill served as in-house counsel with El Paso LNG Co. in Houston.
Harry Nelson is the founder and Managing Partner of Nelson Hardiman, LLP, the largest sole healthcare and life sciences law firm in Los Angeles. Harry has earned a national reputation as a leading expert on the future of US healthcare and is frequently called on to make sense of the most complex aspects of our healthcare system, delivering valuable insights for healthcare providers, government, consumers, employers, and investors.
Government regulators and policymakers have turned to Nelson to advise on the most sensitive and challenging emerging health policy issues. He regularly testifies as an expert on healthcare compliance standards, including data privacy, corporate practice of medicine, and other issues. He is also the co-author of the 2017 book, From ObamaCare to Trumpcare: Why You Should Care, about the past, present, and future of US health policy. Harry has been recognized by Best Lawyers, Southern California Super Lawyers, and received a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent rating annually since 2010.
Kathy is a transformational people and operations leader with an extensive background in human resources, marketing, and business development. She has more than 20 years of experience as a trusted advisor to companies, including Snap, Inc., where she most recently served as its VP Human Resources. She has expertise in building operational excellence and strong cultures and has helped scale and transform many companies through roles including EVP of HR at NBCUniversal, Sr, VP of HR at Comcast Entertainment, and Head of HR at DreamWorks Animation, and VP New Business Development & Communications at BBDO.