"We are trying to open the floodgates and turn the XR ecosystem on its head."

The superpower I'd like to have is: Telepathy My life hack is: Magic mushrooms.

Amir Baradaran

Making XR content accessible for all

EMBRACING ALL YOUR TALENTS. Even at a young age, Amir Baradaran knew a singular pursuit wouldn't define his life. A prolific academic, artist, and queer activist, he credits his ability to weave his interests and expertise together in turning him into a successful entrepreneur. "It took me a long time to recognize that ability as something favorable, even though it wasn't seen as such back in the day."

This mindset has allowed Amir to successfully navigate and blend the worlds of politics and art, first as a painter and now as an ARtificial artist and technologist, operating in the world of extended reality. His early days saw him working with some of the early innovators in the field, including the now Apple-acquired Metaio, working at the forefront of XR technology in public arts projects at The Louvre, MoMA, and The British Museum.

This technology is the inspiration behind his latest enterprise, ABXR, a platform that aims to revolutionize the XR industry by making it more accessible both technically and from a cost perspective. Where platforms like Squarespace and Wix opened the possibilities of website development, ABXR aims to simplify and democratize access to create XR content.

"In a nutshell, we are trying to open the floodgates and turn the XR ecosystem on its head. Currently, this content is created by sophisticated engineers, and there are very few of those, so it takes a lot of time and a lot of money to create. Our role is bringing in people otherwise not equipped to be part of this space."

THE POWER OF BLENDING IDENTITIES. Born in Montreal, Canada, Amir was raised with an outlook on the world as a collective base. His parents, who emigrated from Iran, often taught him about Freud's theory and Marxism. At the same time, he credits his grandfather - an inventor, poet, writer, bodybuilder, and musicologist – for his ability to cross-pollinate his identities. "For me, he normalized the idea that you can be a scientist, a researcher, and a poet at the same time."

A queer activist for most of his life, Amir's published works include studies on 'The Color Of Queer Health Care' and 'Intersections: Cultures, Sexuality and Gender'. He came out as gay after gravitating toward the anti-war movements in the early 2000s. "Thankfully, I have a very supportive family, and I always say my family, sometimes, are gayer than I am."

While Amir feels proud to be at the leading edge of a burgeoning industry, he is also keenly aware of the potential nefarious implications of the Extended Reality (XR) technology. For example, when it comes to data governance, "it's a wild west right now. I think regulations are key, and that's a sore point for the industry, but I'd like to believe that we can come up with ways to better engage with XR technology as a society, more than what has been the case so far. Also, the industry lacks diversity. That’s why at ABXR we place emphasis on the power of representation and are proud to say that over 40% of our engineers are women.”

As Amir continues to develop the ABXR platform, he is focusing on ensuring the company is a leader in promoting good stewardship when handling data in these new 3D environments. "I'm scared of the implications of spatial computing as we understand it under the umbrella of artificial intelligence (AI). It’s still not too late to imagine and propose an alternative AI ecosystem that would be more accessible to, and equitable for, all citizen-users. We have a responsibility to help shape the field to cater towards the greater common good. I think that would be an amazing legacy we'd like to leave behind."

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.