Robotics is a field nearly synonymous with both technology and innovation, and exciting things are happening in the industry right here in B.C.
Chris Caswell is the President and CEO of BC Robotics Inc., a Nanaimo-based company that supplies and manufactures electronics. Caswell got the idea to start the company while he was the director of a technology company that built specialized training simulators. They often struggled to obtain the parts they needed for specific tasks.
“We couldn’t really find the parts that we needed in Canada,” Caswell explains. “Bringing them in was slow, it was unpredictable and it was very difficult to figure out pricing for the products.”
For Caswell, providing locally-sourced options for electronic components is central to BC Robotics’ vision.
“We always try and build as much as we can in-house and almost everything we do is originating in B.C.”
Easy as Pi
One of the company’s biggest sellers is the Raspberry Pi. According to their website, Raspberry Pi is “a credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing.” It has the same capabilities as the average desktop,at a fraction of the size and the cost, and is touted as an easy way for people to learn to write computer programs in a variety of languages. Raspberry Pis have been used for produce all kinds of things, from toys to paludariums.
Caswell says devices like the Raspberry Pi are powering a new movement in tech by allowing people to make their own electronics for specific uses at low cost.
“The maker revolution is definitely the second industrial revolution. If you have the skills to program and do basic wiring, you can make all sorts of interesting things.”
And that’s only the beginning. Caswell sees big things in store for the future. “This is a very small industry that’s growing very rapidly. When Bill Gates comes out and says this is going to make the computer revolution look insignificant then it’s something you want to be involved in.”