• Dani FernÁndez Castro



    Articles, Websites, Projects, Playlists

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    Blunt knives are the kitchen's and food processing unit's #1 safety hazard - Odin's here to help

    This project is the result of a year-long effort by an interdisciplinary team of four (Akshay Ram Panyam, Duo Xu, Kevin Suryadharma and myself) for our final master's thesis project (Integrated Product Design at UPenn) that started by understanding the pain points of workers in agriculture, food processing and kitchens. The result, after countless hours of interviews, observations, ideation, evaluation, prototyping, validation and business modeling is a comfortable, modular knife easily exchangeable blades and a resharpening service that prevents the main safety/health issue (cuts and repetitive strain injuries due to blunt knives) for workers in food-related industries.

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    A Path To Change Your Music Taste?

    Where does musical taste come from? And is music exploration beyond one's favorite genres possible?

    Individual project for a course (Escape The Algorithm, a brilliant course taught by the amazing Elan Ullendorff - visit his website or Substack and you'll agree with me) at the University of Pennsylvania, in which I look at my personal story of unusual journey from hatred to love of two particular music genres thanks to a "click" in my mind. In the website, I also explore why listening to different music matters and how music discovery (even beyond what seems possible) could improve in streaming services.

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    An App to Go Beyond Your (Music) Comfort Zone

    Goal of this team project (Daniel Fernandez-Castro, Miles Soto-Aguayo and Shivani Toshniwal) for the master's course "Escape the Algorithm: Deep Sea Diving on the Internet" (referenced before, was to explore a different way to explore new music, even if wildly beyond your usual music taste, based on a personalized, progressive learning path and some social features.

    Feel free to check out our Figma prototype!

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    Kinetic/Electronic Sculpture. Is it really worth it to engage in online discussions?

    Together with Miyu Horiuchi and Miranda Nardone and as part of our course "Design of Connected Objects and Experiences" at the University of Pennsylvania, we designed and built a kinetic installation that served as a medium to discuss the role of hatred and inflammatory content on online platforms, and its negative impact on the tolerance between people and their individual mental health.


    Basically, every 10 hateful tweets, the 3D printed sculpture's hand with the phone and the blade approached the head, and the head-balloon inflated. There was a lot of hatred and balloon popping. Watch video here.

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    Penn Behavioral Health - Client Project

    How might we help patients work on their mental wellness while waiting for their first therapy session?

    Team project with other Integrated Product Design students (Jiaying Sun, Yitzhak Goldstein and Yuni Kim) at the University of Pennsylvania, aimed at improving the well-being of to-be therapy patients during their wait for their first session.

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    Stop wasting plastic cutlery, bring your own everywhere!

    As part of my Design Processes course (UPenn IPD), I was tasked to try and tackle an environmental issue that mattered to me.


    40 billion single-use plastic forks, spoons, and knives are used and thrown awayeach year. But even if we are aware of the
    impact of our habits on the environment, it's not easy to carry around our own cutlery. Based on the problem, I wonderedL how might we solve the issue of plastic waste in a way that allows users to carry their own with the minimum possible hassle, and make it easily machine washable? Pacto is the result.

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    Never forget your keys at home again

    My first end-to-end engineering and design project, as part of the summer Introduction to Engineering class (Integrated Product Design master's program at University of Pennsylvania), together with Quanyi Wang.

    Goal was to experiment with electronics and code, and doing so by creating something useful. We came up with a system to never forget to take your keys again when you leave home, based on an Arduino board and a few sensors and actuators.

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    "Neuralink y el Futuro Mágico del Cerebro"

    Based on discussions with the blog owners, translated the popular article on Brain-Machine Interfaces to Spanish

    I translated the 2017 WaitButWhy article (short book, really: it was 230 pages) about Brain-Machine Interfaces to Spanish. Publication on the website still pending.

    Image Copyright: WaitButWhy.com

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    The AI Job Wars

    Will AI take our jobs? What do we do if it *actually* does?

    Co-written with Álvaro Sanmartín Cid in 2017 and published in the online magazine BecomingHuman.ai (with 150k followers back then), in this article we go over the potential revolution that machine learning and robotics can create in the labor market.

    With a bit of humor, obviously.

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    Diaries of a volunteer in Lesvos

    Daily thoughts of a person who's never seen action trying to help in the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe's recent history

    In 2016, I decided to go to the island of Lesvos (Greece) to help with the refugee crisis as a volunteer, as I was feeling terribly disappointed with the way that public institutions were handling the massive arrival of Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and Yemenis over from Turkey in dinghies and overcrowded ships, mostly in bad weather and lighting conditions. A few years later, I decided to publish my short diary with my experience and impressions.

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    Mental Health Awareness Post

    A rescue from the depths of my Facebook timeline

    Some thoughts about dealing with depression, destigmatizing mental health issues and advocating to look for solutions, from an old experience that kind of sucked from when I was a very early adult.

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    Feel-Good Indie Things

    Probably my most popular playlist. Which doesn't say much

    The kind of music you'd listen to for a 17h road trip (real-life tested), and you still won't have even listened to 11% of the list (as of June 2024). You were apathetic or sad, now you're starting to move your head to the music. If you're not, what the hell is wrong with you?

  • Professional Career

    Also, you can find my full CV in PDF here (up to date as of June 2024).

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    Sr. Product Manager (Sonos Voice Control)

    Sonos, Inc.

    May 2021 - Jun 2022 (Paris, France)


    Joined the Product team as the first Product Manager, reporting directly to the Sr. Director of Voice Experience to help Sonos launch Sonos Voice Control, its proprietary, private by design voice interface.

    • Owned and delivered the 50+ end user voice UX flows that constituted the initial Sonos Voice Control launch, a cornerstone of the Sonos ecosystem.
    • Managed data analytics for Sonos Voice Control, automating insight generation for product definition and feature evaluation pre-launch.
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    Sr. Voice Experience Designer (Prototyping Labs)

    Sonos, Inc.

    November 2019 - May 2021 (Paris, France)


    After the acquisition of Snips.ai by Sonos, I was tasked to join the R&D team to look into the long-term future of AI voice interfaces.

    • Developed product features and frameworks, and validated UX with 10+ prototypes, guiding long-term technical plans for machine learning and embedded software teams.
    • Advised the VP of Voice Experience on voice interface UX to define the initial Sonos Voice Control product strategy and scope.
    • Co-invented and prototyped systems for voice query identification without activation words, integrated into the roadmap.
      • Invention: “Network Device Interaction by Range” (Sebastian Maury, Valentin Fage, Do Kyun Kim, Daniel Fernandez-Castro, Bjay Watanabe Kamwa, Joseph Dureau). US 11,984,123 B2 (granted May 14, 2024)
    • Invention: “Gatekeeping for voice intent processing” (Valentin Fage, Daniel Fernandez-Castro, Bjay Watanabe Kamwa, Dokyun Kim, Sebastien Maury, Rosa Stern, Joseph Dureau). US 2023/0252979 A1 (published August 10, 2023)
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    Sr. Client Solutions Manager (AI Voice Interfaces)


    Apr 2018 - Nov 2019 (Paris, France) 


    Series B startup offering a private by design AI voice platform running on device. Acquired by Sonos in November 2019.

    • Led task force delivering an on-device music voice interface demo, attracting Sonos' attention for startup acquisition.
    • Designed and delivered 20+ voice interfaces for smart home and music use cases for Fortune 500 and startup clients generating $300k+ in revenue.
    • Contributed to the definition of embedded software development and machine learning roadmaps based on customer needs from 10+ enterprise clients.
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    Program Manager (Alexa Experience and Devices)

    Amazon UK (Alexa)

    Apr 2016 - Mar 2018 (London, UK)


    Joined as employee #2 of Alexa in any European locale and was part of the launch of the first Amazon Echo devices in the UK.

    • Led UK Alexa Beta program, gathering insights from 2,000+ users, ensuring desired UX and performance by the planned launch date of Alexa devices in the UK and every new feature after that within my time in the organisation.
    • Automated data analytics for the global Alexa Beta organization, informing decisions of 50+ employees and freeing ~5% of UK Beta team weekly resources.
    • Selected as UX role model, serving as Working Backwards Coach (20x in UK) and Alexa Experience Bar Raiser (2x).
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    Site Merchandiser / Associate Vendor Mgr (Movies & TV, Music and MP3)

    Amazon Spain

    May 2014 - Apr 2016 (Madrid, Spain)


    I was promoted and expanded my role to take on two additional product lines (Physical & Digital Music), plus negotiations with vendors.

    • Negotiated terms and promotions with main music labels, securing $30k+ in marketing investment.
    • Introduced festival ticket sales for the first time in Amazon EU by achieving buy-in from senior leadership (VPs, Directors) and coordinating effort across teams (customer service, legal, marketing, external vendor), resulting in $300k+ additional revenue and representing 7% of the category profit for the period
    • Coordinated digital music product launches for Spain, recruiting 100+ internal users for Amazon Music apps.
    • Selected as Email marketing bar raiser (2x in Spain) and Homepage content bar raiser (3x in Spain).
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    Site Merchandiser (Movies & TV)

    Amazon Spain

    July 2012 - May 2014 (Madrid, Spain)


    Initially hired as part of the team that launched Amazon in Spain. Consistently ranked amongst Customer Experience Bar Raisers.

    • Local owner of customer experience for the Movies & TV on Amazon.es, leading projects around website, email, promotions, product launches, etc.
      Expanded buyable selection by 30k+ products and enhanced detail page info for additional 40k+ via feed integrations.
    • Doubled email marketing delivery volume while maintaining conversion YoY.
    • Created process for monthly promotions: multiplied selection by 4x, halved work time, increased category revenue by ~10% while maintaining profitability.
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    Intern in Sales E-Commerce (Ciao.es)

    Microsoft GmbH

    May 2011 - Oct 2011 (Munich, Germany)


    Part of the Spanish sales team for the ecommerce platform/price comparison portal Ciao.es.

    • Analyzed customer base to cluster clients into groups and developed specific upsell strategies for each group.
    • Identified and acquired 20+ small & medium business clients, plus one large customer generating $50k+ in sales/year.
    • Contributed to the redesign of the PR website as a voluntary project.
  • EducAtion

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    Master of Integrated Product Design

    University of Pennsylvania

    July 2022 - May 2024 (Philadelphia, USA)


    Multidisciplinary program between Penn Engineering, The Wharton School, and the Weitzman School of Design, with a mixed cohort of engineers, business people, designers and other profiles, aimed at learning how to find the sweet spot between desirability (Design), viability (Business) and feasibility (Engineering) to solve the world's most important problems, via Human-centered design.

    • GPA: 3.81/4.
    • Fully sponsored by La Caixa Foundation.
    • VP of the program's Student Engagement committee.

    Courses taken:

    • Product Engineering Basics (Engineering)
    • Design Fundamentals (Design)
    • Design 21: Design After the Digital (Design)
    • Design Processes (Core)
    • Leadership: Theory and Practice (Business)
    • Design for Manufacturability (Engineering)
    • Problem Framing (Core)
    • Management of Emerging Enterprises (Business)
    • Design of Connected Objects and Experiences (Engineering)
    • Escape the Algorithm: Deep Sea Diving on the Internet (Design)
    • Final Project (Core)
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    Product Management

    July 2017 - October 2017 (London, UK)


    10-week part-time Product Management course.

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    European Degree in Business Management

    Sep 2007 - Jul 2012 (Valencia, Spain)


    Double Degree between Universitat de València (Spain) and Hochschule Bremen (Germany), with a total of two years abroad and two semesters of internships.


    GPA: 8.28/10.00



    • Honors in Statistics
    • Honors in Business English
    • Honors in Macroeconomics
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    B.A. in Business Studies and International Management

    Sep 2009 - Nov 2011 (Bremen, Germany)


    Double Degree between Universitat de València (Spain) and Hochschule Bremen (Germany), with a total of two years abroad and two semesters of corporate internships.


    GPA: 8.28/10.00



    • Top 5% student in International Commerce Law
    • Top 2% student in Entrepreneurship/Management


    Final B.A. Thesis: "Is the Music Industry in Crisis? Market Analysis and New Opportunities" (Fernandez-Castro & Redondo-Vazquez, 2011)*. The final project outlines the structure of the music industry, and how streaming services could pose a threat to their usual business model. It also proposes , as an alternative to a content distribution-heavy business model, a less content distribution-heavy business model, and new business opportunities in areas like live experiences (concerts, etc.)


    * Please don't be too tough judging this one, we were 22 years old when we wrote this 😌 - but we did see that streaming services would create shockwaves in the industry at a point where they were barely starting!

  • Freelance work

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    Product and UX Consultant


    Jun 2023 - Aug 2023 (Valencia, Spain)


    Reported into the VP of Operations of the European SaaS e-Signature company to normalize the UX of a newly developed service based on the group's standard experience and look & feel.

    • Led interviews and user testing to identify usability and performance issues with the company’s e-signature product
    • Developed a new web user experience prototype to streamline the signing process, informed by customer insights
    • Implemented a new process for prioritizing features based on user satisfaction and development cost considerations
    • Authored a handbook for Product Owners to ensure process alignment and application of agile best practices
  • Other interests


    Avid consumer of music, especially what we used to call Indie in the 2000's, and whose number of current genres I can't even start to count. But they would include Chillwave, Indietronica, Indie Rock, Britpop. If you're curious and feel adventurous, check out this website by Glenn McDonald, EveryNoise.com, to check for a seemingly infinite cloud of genres, how they relate to each other and what artists are included in each of them, apart from other fabulous features.


    Also interested in algorithmic content recommendations and ways to discover new music, a topic that I've been kind of obsessed since 2011.

    Ethical Development of Artificial Intelligence

    It's undeniable that Machine Learning algorithms can contribute to humanity very positively. But there are risks in continuing to develop these technologies without some guardrails. I loved this article in Anthropic's website where they outline their strategy to make sure that they develop a safe AI that benefits most of us (or at least that doesn't doom us all). They go over the possible scenarios, from most "innocent" to the most grim, and how they are working to prepare and hopefully prevent the worst from happening, maximizing benefit for humanity and reducing a series of different risks -- including an unlikely, but highly worrying existential risk.


    Other interesting people to follow in the field, in my opinion, are Nick Bostrom (whose almost 10-year old book blew my mind back then and in my opinion still has very valid points ("Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies", 2017). And I'm a big fan of physicist Max Tegmark (check out one of his article's here, or a book he wrote that I loved, "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence", 2018) and his work and views on AI safety. The Future of Life Institute is also doing terrific work in the field (among other existentially important fields).