A brand new augmented reality (AR) attraction launching Monday, March 16 at the birthplace of insulin will showcase aspects of Sir Frederick Banting’s life and career, from the moment he conceived his idea that led to the discovery of insulin to his painting career, military medical research, untimely death, and lasting legacy. 

This is the first of a series of AR attractions to help raise awareness about local art, culture and businesses in London’s Old East Village (OEV) as part of the Digital Main Street Lab program. These attractions are supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) as well as the Government of Ontario. Digital Main Street will provide funding and resources to EXAR Studios as they work with TechAlliance, the OEV BIA and local businesses to build these experiences. 

Part of the attraction will take visitors into a meticulous recreation of Dr. Banting’s bedroom, where the Banting statue in front of the museum will come to life and act out the exact moment when Dr. Banting put to paper his 25-word hypothesis that would lead to the treatment for diabetes.

“With Covid restrictions limiting the hours we are open to the public, this experience will provide an outdoor activity to add to their current routine and provide an enjoyable and educational experience,” said Grant Maltman, Curator, Banting House National Historic Site of Canada. “Museums are about the stories behind the objects. Our hope is that these vignettes will encourage participants in the experience to visit the museum after or even later having had a taste of what we have to offer.”

The attraction will be a permanent part of the museum programming, allowing visitors to gain a greater understanding of Dr. Banting’s life contributions, even when the museum is closed. Users can download the Engage ARt app from the IOS or Android store and make their way to Banting Square, adjacent to Banting House to experience the attraction.

Augmented Reality presents a new and exciting way to experience a neighbourhood by drawing on the cultural essence of an area. Visitors enjoy the uniquely local quality of museums, small businesses, and community artworks within an interactive world that ties everything together for a fun experience. Whether we are highlighting local products or the heritage buildings that a business lives in, we’re offering a glimpse into the deeper worlds that define what makes them special.

Ben Switzer, Chief Growth Officer and Co-Founder, Exar Studios

“It’s more important now than ever before to support independent small businesses, which is why we at Old East Village are delighted to see these augmented reality attractions bring our local businesses to life,” said Jen Pastorius, General Manager of the Old East Village Business Improvement Area. “The Old East Village has always been home to innovative businesses and organizations, so we welcome EXAR Studio’s contribution of the Banting AR experience as a  continuation of this trend.  We look forward to welcoming the AR familiar or curious to explore OEV and all it has to offer to both visitors and locals alike.” 

Engage ARt will also be releasing a series of audio-based experiences to highlight ten small businesses in the area later this month. 

About EXAR Studios and Engage ARt

EXAR Studios is a digital creative technology company dedicated to improving cities and communities. Engage ARt is an augmented reality app showcasing local arts and culture and sustainable, smart tourism.

About Digital Main Street 

Digital Main Street is a program that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and our Digital Service Squad, a team of street-level team members who help main street businesses grow and manage their operations through technology.   

Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association on Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, and Yellow Pages. A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa, and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses to go digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19.

You can find more information about the Banting House and other attractions at engage.art/stories.