Case Study

University of Guelph Royal Winter Fair AR Experience

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair occurs every November in the City of Toronto and is the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world. It celebrates the best in agriculture, local food, and equestrian competitions from across the country. The University of Guelph is a Foundation Sponsor of the event.


The University of Guelph activates a 2,700 square foot exhibit at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. The goal is to allow visitors to experience how science, technology, the arts and entrepreneurship are changing the way we grow, think about and consume food. The challenge is to provide interactive activities to generate discussion around the challenging issues the University of Guelph research is addressing.


First Descent suggested to U of G that it reinvent an already existing quiz that was used in the ‘Discovering Connections between Animals, Humans and the Environments’. The intent of the quiz was to better inform that public about “One Health” research and the links between these three things. First Descent’s approach was to bring that quiz to life with augmented reality. We addressed each of the three areas covered by the quiz – animal health (Horses), and zoonoses and public health (Mosquitos and Ticks). We created markers that blended into the booth and encouraged discovery. Each of the marker mats when scanned with iPads® passed out by University of Guelph staff working the booth, would display a three-dimensional rendering of each of the three quiz pillars.

For example: When the mat featuring an image of a pasture was scanned, a large horse would appear to be standing on the mat in the space, its head is moving and its hoof pawing at the ground. Three-dimensional nodes would appear around the animal and as users moved around the image and touched these on the iPad® screen, question tiles would appear. Touching these question tiles once they've been read would then reveal the answer.


Rather than the “same old – same old” experience, the AR application offered a truly unique experience. The app also offered the staff in the booth a novel way to engage and open a dialogue with visitors.


The augmented reality approach to the quiz was able to hold patrons’ interest longer than in the past, giving staff more time to engage with visitors at the booth. Also, although one visitor managed the iPad typically it was a group experience with shared discussion about the questions which wouldn’t have been the case with a simple quiz.