Once upon a time…
Chris Hall, originally from London, England, moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 2013. During a trip back to the UK to visit friends in the summer of 2016, Chris experienced Virtual Reality for the first time. Completely blown away by the experience, Chris returned to Winnipeg completely hooked on the tech.
Recognizing an incredible opportunity, Chris and his wife opened The Portal Winnipeg, Winnipeg’s very first Virtual Reality Studio and only the third of it’s kind in all of Canada. By offering Virtual Reality in a studio environment, Chris was able to share his passion for VR with everyone, completely breaking down the price barrier that would normally keep people from being able to try out new and exciting technology.
In the beginning…
Having never owned a business before, Chris and his wife had very little knowledge of entrepreneurship or how to move forward. But they knew that they were on to something amazing and with some hard work, faith, and determination The Portal Winnipeg launched in October 2016 in a location on Corydon Avenue. It was a risky move on their part, but it paid off.
By 2017, The Portal had become so popular that expansion was necessary and the studio was moved to an even larger location in the Exchange District. By the end of 2019 further expansion was necessary, so in January 2020 they moved again, with the Grand Opening of their newest location occurring on March 3, 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic shook the world in the spring of 2020. With the pandemic closing in, Chris didn’t feel comfortable continuing to offer Portal VR, with the possibility of sharing headsets in an enclosed space posing too high of a risk of transmission of the virus. Always on the look out for the next big thing, Chris set his sights on remote controlled robots.
The initial idea was that people could come to the studio and control robots in person from individual tablets while safely spaced apart from each other. But, as the lockdowns stretched on and on, Chris began to realize even this was not necessarily going to be possible in the “new normal.”
A new beginning…
Distraught by the possibility of a never-ending line of “Zoom Quizzes” as the only form of digital entertainment and confident that people needed more remote-controlled robots in their lives, Chris set about researching a way to bring Portal Bots to the world during the pandemic. What he discovered, known as “telepresence” allowed people to log into the studio remotely from anywhere in North America, or even beyond. In April 2021, Portal Bots was launched, the very first telepresence controlled robot entertainment experience available in all of North America.
Through state of the art technology, Portal Bots allows users to connect with each other from anywhere in North America, or even as far as Europe, to battle, race, or strategize in real time. Up to thirty people can join a single game via livestream and take turns controlling the six robots in heated “best of” race competitions or “last bot standing” free for all tournaments.
Looking forward to the future…
No one truly knows what the future may hold, but at The Portal Winnipeg we are still laser focused on bringing the future of entertainment to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and all of North America. Expansion continues as we work on developing more robots, better courses, and more challenging and immersive gameplay.
And, of course, Chris is still leading the way with passion and excitement, hard work and determination, and a desire to share the newest and most exciting technology with everyone.
To be continued…
“Our team had an awesome time with the Portal Bots! We’re always looking for new ways for our teams to have fun even at a distance – we had an awesome time and Chris was super helpful in getting us set up!”