A free app allowing Londoners to see the city as they’ve never seen it before is set to launch this fall. Engage guides users on scavenger hunt-like “adventures” through London neighborhoods, with stops along the way to experience “attractions” just by looking through their phone’s camera. Murals come to life, billboards move, and London’s history becomes a visual reality.

The app is being developed by EXAR Studios, a local company devoted to engaging communities and consumers through futuristic technologies including virtual reality, projection mapping, augmented reality, and more. The development is being funded in large part by a $100,000 grant from the Regional Recovery and Relief Fund through FedDev, gifted by Tourism London and over $200,000 in private funding through the Elgin County Museum and arranged by Andrew Gunn Consulting and young & free press.

With tourism at a low due to COVID-19, the app provides a safe way to spend time outdoors and learn about the city’s history while respecting social distancing guidelines.

The Engage project is also being developed with local partners including Dundas Place, Museum London, the London Children’s Museum, TechAlliance, London Public Libraries, Downtown London BIA, Old East London BIA, Western Fair District, London Arts Council, The Urban League of London, London Heritage Council, and the City of London.

Consultants Andrew Gunn and Maddie King arranged the contribution of over $200,000 from the private estate of Donna Bushell to expand Engage into Elgin County, including St. Thomas and Port Stanley. An additional $50,000 will be allocated from the Estate to the Elgin County Museum to establish an Augmented Reality Research Associate position. The individual hired for this role will work with the regional museums and archives to generate historical and cultural information that will populate the app.