HP Labs

HP’s Fort Collins campus hosts an innovation forum

By Simon Firth, HP Labs Correspondent — November 15, 2018

Bruce Blaho, HP Fellow and Chief Technologist for HP Workstations

Photo courtesy of HP

Bruce Blaho, HP Fellow and Chief Technologist for HP Workstations

A recent event at HP’s Fort Collins, Colorado campus showcased the breadth of innovative research being undertaken at the site.

The 2018 Fort Collins Innovation Forum featured projects undertaken by twenty five local teams that offered insights into subjects as diverse as the chemistry of touch displays, workstation management, server load balancing, virtual reality, and automated signal classification for more efficient medical diagnoses. The forum opened with a keynote address from HP Fellow and Chief Technologist for HP Workstations Bruce Blaho on the promise of edge computing and was followed by poster presentations by the teams.

HP’s Fort Collins campus is known as the home base for the company’s Workstation R&D group and, more recently, HP’s virtual reality team, but the site hosts many other researchers, including a number from HP Labs. One of those HP Labs engineers, Jason Aronoff, was a leading force behind the forum.

“We were mostly trying to raise awareness of the innovative work that is being done here and help foster an environment where we can be inspired by each other’s efforts,” reports Aronoff, a machine learning research scientist in HP’s Print Adjacencies and 3D Lab. The forum featured his own research on using machine learning to interpret signals from HP-developed sensor devices for better disease detection. 

“We were mostly trying to raise awareness of the innovative work that is being done here and help foster an environment where we can be inspired by each other’s efforts."

Jason Aronoff, HP Labs machine learning research scientist

For Cristina Mahon, Global Head of CTO Engineering and Operations, the event sparked valuable discussions with presenters that had immediate relevance for work that her group is undertaking.

“The conversations we had at the forum made us realize that another group was trying to tackle a similar challenge that we have and that we could share what we each had developed for a better overall solution.” says Mahon. “So we really appreciate the opportunity to meet our peers and benefit from that kind of cross pollination of ideas.”

Aronoff and fellow organizers were also hoping that asking people to describe what was innovative about their project would help them develop the supporting materials they’d need to submit a patent application for the work. While it’s too early to gather hard numbers, Aronoff is hopeful that the forum pushed more people towards patenting their research.

This wasn’t the Colorado site’s first Innovation Forum. An inaugural event was held in 2013 and repeated a year later, but then the company split and almost three quarters of the local employee population left to join Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

“When we decided to revive the Innovation Forum, we weren't sure how much interest there would be with the much smaller campus,” says Aronoff. “But the 2014 forum showcased 28 projects and this year we had 25, so that’s a pretty good result with only a quarter of the original employee population.”

With proven interest from participants and plenty of innovative projects to share, Aronoff and fellow organizers are already planning next year’s event.