Smartphone app project receives NEA grant


Markus Vogl

A project at The University of Akron to develop S.A.R.A., an interactive smartphone application that converts videos into unique sound and visual compositions, has received a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

UA is one of 78 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive Arts in Media grants from the NEA. Totaling $3.55 million, the grants support the development, production and national distribution of innovative media projects that can be considered works of art.

Markus Vogl, an assistant professor of art at UA's Mary Schiller Myers School of Art, is developing S.A.R.A. in collaboration with Margarita Benitez, an assistant professor of art at Kent State University. Vogl and Benitez are Kent residents.

More about the inventor

Markus Vogl joined the graphic design faculty of the UA Myers School of Art in 2010. As a new media artist, he works in Web, print and interactive design with a focus on creating multiple sensory experiences that combine sound, environments and interactive installations.

Vogl expects that S.A.R.A. — or “synesthetic augmented reality application” — will enable users of mobile computing devices such as iPhones and Androids to create sounds and visuals based on the videos they record on their iPhones, Androids, or other mobile computing devices.

"S.A.R.A. will convert video to a unique artistic composition as you point your camera anywhere," explained Vogl. "For example, you will be able to use it to create sounds and visuals during social gatherings or to enjoy while you commute to work."

Vogl plans to offer S.A.R.A. as a free download through iTunes and Android stores, potentially reaching more than 200 million devices.

According to NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman, 329 organizations applied for the Arts in Media grants. "The University of Akron is among the 25 percent recommended for funding, a sign of organizational strength and creativity," he said.

"While Americans across the country are experiencing art live and in person every day, NEA research has shown that more than half of American adults also consume the arts via electronic media," said Landesman. "I am thrilled to announce these Arts in Media grants and look forward to the organizations' efforts to reach ever-wider audiences and create innovative new works of art.”

For a complete list of projects recommended for Arts in Media grant support, visit the NEA website.

Media contact: Cyndee Snider, 330-972-5196 or