Since 1929, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California has proudly facilitated the educational desires of numerous creative individuals passionate about committing their lives to artistry. Starting out as a school primarily known for advertising art, the Academy of Art University now boasts a wide selection of art inspired career paths for students to choose from, such as graphic design, fashion design, performance arts, fine arts, and liberal arts. Among these broader artistic categories are more specialized technical subsections of those fields that currently include video game design, mobile application development, and other technology-based courses. A department in the Academy of Art University that has been gaining notoriety as of late is the School of Game Development as a result of an altruistic, technological investment students made to their San Francisco community.
A group of students from the Academy of Art University’s School of Game Development decided to incorporate the use augmented reality technology in an attempt to positively impact one of the most poverty-stricken, crime-ridden areas in the entire city of San Francisco called the Tenderloin District. An ingenious augmented reality smartphone application aptly named “Tenderfeels” was created by four students at the Academy of Art University. The app was specifically devised to benefit Tenderloin making it safer for citizens that reside in that particular area. As opposed to virtual reality, augmented reality layers graphics, sounds, and interactive touch responses to the physical world; a technique that was popularized by the viral app, “Pokémon GO.” Tenderfeels analyzes the real-time emotional reactions of the application users to gauge the overall atmosphere of certain areas in Tenderloin and in turn advising other users.
The overarching goal of this project is to eventually be able to provide this technology to regions that require assistance across the United States. Tenderloin is just like many other impoverished neighborhoods in the country that do not as of yet possess the necessary resources to help themselves achieve a thriving society socially or economically. However, as exhibited by the efforts of the students from the Academy of Art University, it shows the generosity of a small few has the potential to make a big difference.