Phantom Tech: Graduates’ business helping two worlds collide

Farbod Shakouri and Daniel Mosai

Two BU graduates are setting out to shake up the world of Augmented Reality (AR) with the launch of a new business.

Farbod Shakouri and Daniel Mosaid are co-founders of Phantom Tech, which provides the software and tools required by developers to create AR apps that draw on real-world data.

For Farbod, the interest in uses of AR grew during his time studying games technology at BU. This included time spent on a project for the National Trust building a location-based app for its Avebury Henge site, with the aim of attracting younger visitors.

Farbod said: “My decision to study games technology was driven by a desire to combine my interests in physics and art. The degree provided me with an opportunity to bring together these areas in a meaningful way, as well as to explore how AR could be used to improve people’s health and wellbeing by encouraging them to get outside and immerse themselves in the game experience.”

The Avebury Henge project enabled visitors to take part in an AR treasure hunt using their mobile device, and to learn about the history of the site through a series of 3D visualisations. Findings from the project, including how this technology could increase interest in heritage among younger adults, went on to be published in a scientific journal.

Student using phantom technology at a workshop

The experience from the project set Farbod off to explore why the potential of AR had not yet been fully realised, and ultimately to consider how mapping real-world data – the buildings, trees and other features around us – could make AR smarter and more integral. This began with a doctorate and developed into the business he is running with Daniel today.

He said: “There has been such a focus on personal data in recent years, as we have all become acutely aware of how we are viewed in the digital world and how the information about us is stored and processed. But we are only just beginning to realise the potential of data capture of real-world objects, including how this can improve AR experiences, and this has become the focus of our work at Phantom Tech.”

Farbod and Daniel, supported by a small team of fellow BU grads, believe that game engines will become one of the most valuable software technologies by the end of the decade. For now, the pair are drawing on the skills and knowledge developed at BU to grow the business and attract funding. Farbod said: “Both Daniel and I were able to use our placement year as a year in enterprise, during which we created a mobile game that achieved more than 80,000 downloads. It was so beneficial to have the freedom to do that, and we learnt so much from the experience which we have been able to take forward into running our own business. As we grow, we want to maintain our connection with BU as we see it as a hub for new digital and creative talent.”