Exar Studios receives Digital Main Street Lab funding to develop AR experiences for Old East Village
Photo: Exar Studios’ Shishir Pande, Edward Platero, Daniel Kharlas and Ben Switzer
LONDON-BASED CREATIVE TECH firm Exar Studios, in collaboration with TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario and Old East Village BIA, has been selected as a funding recipient in the Digital Main Street Lab program, an initiative that aims to help main-street businesses achieve digital transformation.
Supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) as well as the Government of Ontario, Digital Main Street will provide $20,000 in funding and resources to Exar Studios as they embark on a pilot project to help develop augmented reality (AR) experiences for local arts and culture businesses in London’s Old East Village. The London pilot project will run through March 31, 2021.
The London pilot project, which will run through March 31, 2021, will utilize EXAR’s Engage app platform, which was developed as an innovative tourism solution, guiding users through historic and cultural learning adventures in AR.
“When we started the journey to create Engage, our AR app, we started by asking ourselves how our technology could serve the small business community struggling as a result of Covid-19. We held a conviction that beauty, interactivity, arts and culture, history, local stories and a narrative of hope for the future could be the mechanism for uplifting what ‘local’ truly means,” says Ben Switzer, co-founder of EXAR Studios.
“We understood that small businesses are a cornerstone of what is uniquely local and irreplaceable, so we resolved to enhance the special quality of that community experience through augmented reality and other interactive technologies, like IoT,” Switzer adds. “Working with Digital Main Street as part of the DMS Lab is a major milestone in our goal to engage communities through technology, highlighting our collaborative and inclusive spirit while further empowering us in our mission to serve main street businesses and cities.”
In their work with EXAR Studios’ pilot in Old East Village, the TechAlliance and Digital Main Street team will focus on empowering main street businesses to adapt futuristic experiences for tourism and local exploration that showcase heritage and culture in a smarter, greener and fun way.
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“EXAR Studios’ cast of innovators have opened the door to new possibilities in tourism with the Engage app,” notes TechAlliance CEO, Christina Fox. “This contemporary means to experience the region has catalyzed collisions within our vibrant community, further demonstrating our collective promise to enabling entrepreneurs as we recover.”
As part of the Digital Main Street Lab program criteria, through their Venture Growth team, TechAlliance will advise EXAR Studios during the pilot to ensure scalability across Ontario.
“TechAlliance is committed to our role as a delivery partner and amplifier for Digital Main Street in Southwestern Ontario, working alongside local partners like Old East Village BIA in London to foster some of Ontario’s most promising startups and fuel transformation for main-street businesses,” adds Fox.