Case Study


The Integrated Community Energy and Harvesting System (ICE-Harvest) at McMaster University is a cooperative research project that advances the idea of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) by embedding integrated thermal and electrical generation as well as storage within a community to allow them to be powered, heated , and cooled in an economic and carbon-reduced way. As part of the project, the McMaster team has built a test facility to act as a hybrid system, taking advantage of the fossil fuel free base-load energy grid within a facility to deliver thermal and electrical energy, while helping to manage the peak electrical demand on the university campus. This robust system has the flexibility to accommodate renewable energy resources and future technologies.


Explain a complex topic in an engaging and informative way.


First Descent worked closely with Dr. James S. Cotton and Ryan Rogers to bring the project to life. An augmented reality landmass, complete with community buildings, shows the energy harvest system cut-away to clearly illustrate the process. The AR solution was designed to allow the user to drop a visual of a landmass through a tablet app. Once the landmass is sized and scaled in the space, the user can anchor it and provide a 360-degree view of the entire process. The process information has been compartmentalized into chapters, and within each chapter is an animation of how that specific aspect functions in relation to the system as a whole. Users will see the energy being sent to the facilities and pulled back out into the system and stored until it is required.

Most importantly, the ICE-Harvest project promotes a vision of more sustainable communities that are able to produce, utilize and manage their own energy systems – a vision that is compatible with the goal of creating a resilient and a low carbon society of the future.

The augmented reality experience was perfect for communicating complex theory to both industry experts and the general public. The app became an essential part of our public relations toolkit and helped increase project traction and improve stakeholder engagement.
Ryan Rogers
Graudate Researcher, McMaster University


This complex topic is not easily explained and is very difficult to visualize. Having the ability to use cutting-edge technology to visually illustrate a ground-breaking technology increases viewer engagement and the content is easier to understand.


First Descent created an engaging and effective tool for communicating and educating industry partners and the general public of the potential of this technology and research being done by McMaster University.