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April 11, 2022 Tech 25

2022 Tech 25: Augmented reality firm Arsome Technology brings static objects to life

HBJ FILE PHOTO Benjamin Williams is the CEO of Manchester augmented reality provider Arsome Technology.

When visitors to the New England Air Museum point their phones at the prototype BioSuit on display, they can get an idea of what it feels like to move within the outfit designed for missions to the moon and Mars.

That experience is driven by augmented reality (AR) technology developed by Arsome Technology in Manchester.

Similar technology lets visitors hear from Mark Twain when they point their iPad at the author’s statue in the Hartford Public Library.

And subscribers to Mystic Aquarium’s “Animal Heroes” project can experience a day among marine life, also thanks to Arsome’s technology.

It’s all just a start, says Benjamin Williams, CEO and co-founder.

He points to development deals with the likes of Travelers Cos., Pfizer and the Childhood Prosperity Lab at Connecticut Children’s in Hartford to demonstrate the range of uses for augmented and virtual reality (VR) technologies.

The firm started with “a small loan” from his father, Williams explains, and has now grown into a self-funded venture that’s in the process of splitting into separate service and funding arms.

The service arm works with clients to implement the best technology and storytelling approach to reach the client’s goal, while the funding arm is investing in promising companies developing new technologies.

Williams’ route to becoming an entrepreneur took him to Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) as an undergrad; UConn for his MBA; New York University for a master’s in technology and innovation; and Harvard for a master’s in international relations.

He gives a lot of credit to David Oyanadel, a lecturer at ECSU who has become his co-founder at Arsome.

The young CEO sees vast potential for AR/VR in learning but suspects a confluence of factors will slow deployment in public education. That’s just one of several frustrations with the status quo.

Entrepreneurship is a basic skill for life in the 21st century and should be taught at every level of the education system, he says.

And then there’s the matter of startup funding.

“The government had no problem helping finance my education but where is everybody when I want to borrow $5,000 to start a company,” he asks.

Williams serves as a mentor through both CTNext and Connecticut Innovations, but Arsome received no funding from CI, he says, declining to elaborate.

One of the firm’s newer endeavors involves a subsidiary known as ARx. It is working with the Childhood Prosperity Lab at Connecticut Children’s in Hartford on a healthcare literacy program.

First up is a program that will allow a consumer to access details on drug interactions, side effects and warning signs by pointing a mobile phone at the drug container. The program identifies the drug and displays the data in augmented reality.

The technology has broad potential in health care as well as corporate training applications, Williams says.

The next hurdle, he says, is improving margins.

He expects the firm to remain lean, pointing to a force of 60-plus staff, consultants and partners. But that doesn’t mean small, he cautions.

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