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Here in "the Innovation Capital of the World", as Mayor Lee recently described San Francisco, the largest private art school in the U. S. has unveiled a vibrant new digital tool to make the pages of its catalog come alive.  

San Francisco's Academy of Art University is wowing prospective students through Aurasma's radical new technology that allows aspiring artists and designers to access interactive features in their catalog. Readers aim their iPhones or Androids at the catalog which connects them to a trove of streaming video, audio and text about programs in their selected field.  

"Using Aurasma's augmented reality platform, the Intersections app transforms the traditional printed material into a portal for current digital content through an interactive mobile experience. It makes the book more relevant and engaging than ever before," said Jennifer Rapp, general manager at Aurasma.  

It's digital innovations like this that enhance the consumer experience and make consumers hungrier for more sophisticated digital technology. But turning the page, digital innovations creating access to hours of streaming video and audio require more wireless capacity.  And with skyrocketing demand for more and better digital innovations that gobble up mobile data, wireless capacity becomes constrained. The supply of spectrum, the invisible airwaves that fuel smartphones and tablets, is not keeping pace with consumer demand.  While policymakers deserve some credit for taking action to free up more spectrum, they must explore all options, cover to cover, to accommodate consumer need for more wireless data and provide the resources to develop advanced communications infrastructure.  

The Federal Communications Commission estimated a 35-fold increase in U.S. mobile data traffic from 2009 to 2014 and projected that data traffic could overwhelm available spectrum by the end of next year. Fortunately, there's plenty of spectrum available for consumer use.  But right now the U.S. government, which manages spectrum allocation for government, public safety, and private companies, has only allocated a small portion of spectrum for mobile Internet.  

Recently, Washington took a step in the right direction earlier this year by approving public spectrum auctions.  Open bidding gives providers ready to put spectrum to work an opportunity to purchase spectrum they need to build state-of-the-art networks that can bring cutting edge technology to consumers.  

The government's approval of spectrum auctions is a good start.  However, federal lawmakers must take action immediately to release more spectrum for consumer mobile use and modernize policies that better fit a wireless market that's moving at 21st Century speed.  By expanding wireless capacity, innovative new ways of communicating, like the Academy of Art University's digital catalog, will become just one of the many incredible technology developments that transform our lives every day.  

Dr. Elisa Stephens, President of Academy of Art University, commented on the digital tool, "Consumers today expect an interactive, personal experience, whether they are researching a new car or a new school.  The augmented technology is a tremendous asset for Academy of Art University because everything happening on our campus is creative in nature -- and now we have a platform that allows the public to experience it in an interactive way. We are excited for students to experience the University through Intersections and think this is just the tip of the iceberg for the future of marketing to students."

The communications revolution is bringing about digital innovations, like the Academy of Art University catalog, that are strengthening education and public safety, improving the quality and delivery of health care and offering communications devices that can do more and more.  Let's make sure public policy keeps pace with the rapidly evolving world of digital communications to support innovations we have yet to even see and enjoy.

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