The Academy of Art University (AAU) is one of the largest privately owned schools in the United States. AAU was founded by Richard S. Stephens, who was Sunset Magazine’s creative director, in San Francisco in 1929. In San Francisco, AAU is also one of the largest owned properties.
The school offers many different classes that have been offered since the school first opened, and those classes range from designs, fine arts, liberal arts, and entertainment. Other departments AAU offers that are relevant to this time period are designing applications for smartphones, video games, web design and new media, and more.
The School of Game Development (GAM) at AAU has recently connected to other departments to create interactive technology. The Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) from the San Francisco Mayor’s Office was demonstrated work, which was augmented reality (AR) by, the GAM students. With AR a person can view their live real-world surroundings which are amplified by a computer-generated image. The students worked on creating a new application for smartphones called Tenderfeels, so the CIO toured the GAM department to learn more about it. If the application is accepted, then it can help residents in the Tenderloin district feel much safer.
The Tenderloin district has the highest rate of crime and poverty, and has been known to be described as ‘unsafe’ and ‘disgusting’. But with the students at AAU, they can help to revamp the neighborhood with their artistic skills.
Four AAU students are the creators of Tenderfeels. The way the application works is that it uses AR to collect real-time data as the residents share how their current surroundings make them feel. The users can also see the real time results and the reason why a resident marked an area with a certain emotion. Schools and other government organizations can collect this data to work on solving those issues.
The current president at AAU is Dr. Elisa Stephens, who is making sure that AAU keeps up with new technologies and business trends. So far, AAU has taken in over 18,000 students, making it the largest accredited privately owned school of art and design.