We’re excited to feature CHA’s Chris Gallagher in this entry of our “Who in the world of CHA” series. Chris has been with CHA for six years (in June), and he’s been a part of our Research & Disruption (R&D) department since 2017. As our regular readers know, we recently featured our entire R&D department and the incredible work they are doing to ensure CHA stays on the forefront of the latest technology while making some truly inspirational strides in the products we offer. So, who better to feature next, than the man who lives and breathes all things tech?
Chris’ official title here is Senior Multimedia Developer and he works closely with a bunch of engineering and computer science types while claiming not to be one himself. We think he fits in just fine, and is an integral part of what makes our R&D department so successful. We asked him what he’s most excited about at work these days and he said, “Using off-the-shelf game engine technology to generate digital twins for machine learning and computer vision.” For those of us who don’t speak CHA R&D lingo, a game engine is simply a software development environment designed for people who build video games. What they’re doing in R&D right now is exploring ways to use these game engines to enhance and expand upon the AI and other products we already produce, making them better and enabling these products to do even more. If you want to know more, check out our article on how R&D is playing with existing technology here.
While not a veteran, Chris is passionate about creating and turning out products that keep our military men and women safe and on the top of their game (pun partially intended). Chris claims his outside hobbies pretty much mirror what he does at CHA. “I’m into 3D, VR, and AR development, motion graphics, and design. These are the things I’ve been doing regularly as a hobby,” he says. Given his passion for technology, it may seem surprising to learn that Chris and his wife have two daughters currently in college studying for careers in the arts. His youngest is studying acting and his oldest is studying the visual arts. But lest we think his daughters may have fallen away from the proverbial parental tree, we should note Chris takes his technology interest in a similar direction: he makes short films in his free time. “I recently completed an entirely CG-generated short film that now has more than 102,000 views on YouTube,” he told us.
What inspired such a “passion project,” as he calls it? It all goes back to a visit to the Haunted Mansion in Orlando, Fla., back when he was all of 5 years old. “I was terrified,” he recalls, but the experience stuck with him and when he had the ability and the time, he turned his hand and creative brain toward crafting that experience into something new. It took him five years to complete, working in what little free time he had, but, he says, “my knowledge of 3D grew 500% easily.” Most every aspect of his passion project spilled over into his work at CHA. “Everything from 3D model optimization to having learned how to rig 3D humans (avatars), to proficient audio engineering, virtual camera rigs, storyboarding 3D graphics, atmospherics, and 3D simulations…all of this, I bring into the work I do with 3D game engines and video production at CHA.”
It’s inspired him at work and made him more effective there as well. “What I’m pursuing now, is to go heavily into learning off-the-shelf game engines as much as I can.” He says CHA’s training division is getting into game engines to produce learning content for our clients and it’s something he’s extremely excited about. “R&D is already using [game engines] to develop AR and VR for learning content,” he states, adding that he’s excited to see that trickling over to training and, hopefully, to other departments as well.
Chris really likes what CHA has “already achieved internationally” when it comes to innovation, and he expects that to be exponentially more impressive in five years. He’s happy to be on the CHA team, striving to create new, better, beyond state-of-the-art products for clients, and looks forward to where we’ll be in the future. It’s interesting that Chris is so much at the forefront of undeveloped technology when you consider he’s an 18th- and 19th-century American history buff. “It reads better than fiction,” he says.