Academy of Art University Brings Augmented Reality to Tenderloin

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The Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California recently brought a smartphone application called “Tenderfeels” to the Tenderloin district in the city. The application was designed to help residents feel safer in the district and to provide feedback from people living in the neighborhood.

Using augmented reality, people who download the app can report in real time how they are feeling in the Tenderloin district and how that translates to each block in the area. They can choose from a range of emotions that go from disgusted and angry to happy and joyful. Four students from AAU took part in an event hosted by Tech in the Tenderloin to use the technology to come up with civic and social solutions the district has been experiencing.

AAU is the perfect place for these students to be practicing how this app works and how it may change the world of gathering information to help improve urban living. The school was originally founded in 1929 and opened up for advertising art, not for video game development like it has today. Today, the school has many areas of study students can focus on including visual effects, 3D modeling/texturing, game design, rigging, programming, and other skills to pursue careers in technologies like virtual and augmented reality.

The founder of the school is Richard S. Stephens who worked as a magazine editor and painter at the time and was the head of the school until he handed the reins to his son Richard in 1951. In 1992, Richard let his daughter Elisa takeover who had continued to lead the school on to greater success and watched it grow.

The students attending AAU have increased from a humble 2000 to 18,000 since 2012 and it’s to be expected those numbers may continue to increase. AAU has also been participating in the NY Fashion Week since 2005 and has continued to provide students with the opportunities they need to continue to learn new skills to pursue their careers. The school offers associates, bachelors, and masters degrees amongst the twenty-five subjects taught at the school with some courses also being offered online now.

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