Academy of Art University Collaborates With City Leaders On Augmented Reality

Academy of Art University (AAU) students have crafted an app using augmented reality technology to collect real-time data which will make San Francisco’s Tenderloin District a safer neighborhood.

The AAU, which has called San Francisco home since 1929, works with students in the areas of design, communication and the arts, presenting AA, BA, BFA, MA, MFA & M.Arch degree programs.

The privately-owned for profit art school was founded by Richard Stephens and his wife Clara. Dr. Elisa Stephens, granddaughter of the school’s founder, followed her father as AAU president in 1992 and helped expand the student population to more than 14,000.

While wealthy areas such as Nob Hill and Downtown border on the Tenderloin District, it has been acknowledged as perilous and dangerous. The Tenderloin District, which houses about 25,000 people in a quarter square mile, has both the leading rate of crime and poverty in San Francisco,


Four AAU students took part in a Tech in the Tenderloin event competing against students from Stanford University, Penn State University and the University of California Berkeley to discover outcomes unique to the Tenderloin District.

The smartphone app, Tenderfeels, makes the most of augmented reality technology, also called AR, to improve the things heard, seen and felt. Users of the technology come into contact with new interactions where virtual facts and figures provide help in daily actions.

The app also uses AR to collect real-time data based on how the residents of the Tenderloin District feel as they reveal their moods involving their present environment.

For example, residents can give details in real time on their emotions, which range from angry and frustrated to joyful and happy, on each block within the district.

One of the ambitions of the app is to provide the information to schools and government groups who will be able to identify problem areas, tackle them and in the end solve issues.

AAU students from the School of Game Development gave a demonstration of Tenderfeels to San Francisco Mayor’s Office Chief Innovation Officer, Jay Nast.

AAU’s School of Game Development educates in game design, programming, 3D modeling and texturing. It also instructs in concept art, animation, visual effects and more.


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