Chris Morgan: A Passion for VR and Robotics

The IVRC recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Chris Morgan, a member of the executive team over at Bastian Solutions to learn more about his work in robotics, passion for VR/AR, and to get some of his thoughts around the VR/AR industry. Bastian Solutions is an independent material handling system integrator providing automated solutions for distribution, manufacturing, and order fulfillment centers around the world. In his current capacity at the company, Chris oversees all research and development. Prior to joining Bastian, Chris spent 14 years at HP where he led the Reliability and Hardware Development Labs. He was also a pioneer and founder of the HP Robotics Labs. In this role he led his teams to produce various types of developmental robots such as arms, hands, various end effectors, testing, autonomous mobility units, robotic assistants and virtual presence devices. While there he also developed a dynamic collaborative global Makerspace program where people of all backgrounds and disciplines could come together to innovate.

Bastian team heading to the Industrial Robotics Conference ProMat/Automate 2017

Chris is best known for being a passionate leader, innovator, futurist and visionary. He spends most of his time developing new technologies and evangelizing robotics, augmented reality, AI, IOT, and immersive technologies. We had such a great time talking with Chris as his passion for technology is palpable! He is VERY excited to help us continue spreading the word about this amazing technology. So let’s dive into what Chris had to say:

Why are you passionate about VR?
The possibilities are endless. We are just now barely scratching the surface of this incredibly exciting technology. VR is so awesome because it can stand alone and/or be paired with other pieces of tech (i.e. Robots, AI, IOT, Drones, Killer Iron Man Suits etc.…) and become even more brilliant. It’s kind of like eating hot fudge sundays , while listening to the Beatles inside the Sistine Chapel on a super “Dill Tuesday” that just became very sweet. Yah…. It’s like that!

What has been an important factor in gaining traction in this space?
Users, Developers and strong companies that all come together to support one another.  Great committees such as the Idaho VR Council to bring people together to share information , collaborate and educate the general populous.

Chris in Chinatown, Chicago while in town for the Robot Operating System (ROS) Consortium

What do you think are the greatest opportunities within the VR/AR space?
I believe VR/AR will elevate the social experience and allow for dramatically increased learnings, throughput and optimizations within every sector. Especially in R&D, education, health, medical, elderly care, military applications, manufacturing, design and sales.

What trends are you seeing in the space?
Using VR/AR as a training tool, to develop environments, virtual laboratories, medical simulators and real time viewing devices, to create a “user and or customer experience” for sales or design, a medium to control physical hardware, and most importantly to create a fantastic gaming experience.
Oh and think there is one company that is taking great advantage of VR to create a whole new way of experiencing a fabulous physical workout.  No name dropping here but I am very proud to say that it’s from Boise, ID.

Why should companies embrace this emerging technology?
Early adopters are going set the pace and trends for innovation and development but eventually it’s going to be a household tool and as typical as a cell phone or a Facebook account. Getting to know it now will ensure that you can understand all the use cases and endless possibilities that your company has at its fingertips to stay relevant and cutting edge in today’s ever evolving marketspace.

What advice would you give to a company looking to get into the VR space or a company wanting to leverage VR in their business?
Join a local VR group, attend a conference, do some preliminary research online to understand the current technology offerings and the emerging market trends. See how you can apply those functions into your own company and or small business. Then find a development group and or consulting agency to help you achieve your goals using VR. Alternately if you have a development group on hand expose them to the technology and set up some limited time for them to brainstorm and experiment without bounds. Then do a deep dive on their learnings and build a functional project based upon your company’s needs. The most obvious is answer is join and support the Idaho VR Council.

What are three ways you think companies can succeed in this market?
Study the emerging market like crazy and in the middle of that process learn quickly, take risks and fail fast but fail forward. Collaborate and leverage, be a great partner, set the tone as a strong market leader and share with the community when you can. Last but not least as always keep it classy.

What innovations are you looking forward to most?
A strongly supported open source platform that provides the communication and extensibility between hardware and VR. A ROS Virtual Reality if you will. Where I as a Maker can grab off the shelf components and blend sensors, motors, plc’s , AI, and VR/AR to create the ultimate blended reality experience. A Mixed Modular Robotic Machine with Immersive Features that are seamlessly tied together and working in harmony.  A big kids version of a VR/Hardware based LEGO Mindstorms.

We are very fortunate to have Chris as a Founding Member of the IVRC! If you’d like to connect with him reach out to him on LinkedIn.

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