Students work at whiteboards and tables in the co-lab
A 3D object in foreground, with student working in background
A student uses a stylus while working on a project in the Smale lab
Students work at computers in the Game Lab

AIMS History

The Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS) was founded in 1996 by a multi-disciplinary group of faculty who worked in digital media and recognized that a new horizontal organizational structure was needed — a structure not present within the vertical silos in higher education. Seed funding of $1 million was provided by P&G (the foundation’s largest gift to a university) to develop this new program. 

Since its inception, AIMS functions and exists in the “transdisciplinary” spaces between and above the various university divisions. This allows AIMS to work on hands-on, client based, interdisciplinary projects and courses. Cross-functional student teams engage in front-line research, working to solve real world problems of corporations and non-profits while leveraging cutting-edge interactive media.

After nearly twenty years of success, AIMS was funded in 2008 through a gift of nearly $15 million from Miami alumnus C. Michael Armstrong and Anne Armstrong. This gift enabled AIMS to rapidly expand its reach and offer a robust set of academic offerings, including two minors (general interactive media studies and digital game studies), a co-major, a highly-selective major, a graduate certificate and a joint Masters in Fine Art (in partnership with Graphic Design). Due to interest from both industry and students, AIMS faculty are also rapidly building a Game Major, which will launch soon. 

Emerging Technologies

In 2001, thanks to a pair of very generous donations from John Smale and Michael Armstrong, the Smale Interactive Visualization Center was founded. The center is a research and innovation center devoted to emerging visualization tools and techniques including augmented and virtual reality. The Center currently boasts several cutting-edge display technologies including:

  • the CAVE, a 4-wall, reconfigurable display system, in which a user can stand and be surrounded by three 3D rear-projected walls and a projected 3D floor – a truly immersive visual experience. 
  • the Powerwall, a 16’ x 9’ HD 3D active stereoscopic projection system
  • a set of developer kits and prototype hardware for the Oculus Rift, a next-generation virtual reality headset to be sold to consumers
  • a smaller, portable 3D projection system that can be used in classrooms or off-campus sites
  • an immersive, 3D, 40” desktop display system

AIMS also runs the HIVE, the world's largest space devoted to a virtual reality system. It features a state-of-the-art position tracking system and over 1,000 m2 of tracking space in which users can walk freely while wearing a head-mounted display.

All AIMS undergraduate and graduate students have access to this equipment and make use of it to engage in the forefront of interactive media research as well bringing their creative solutions to complex problems to life.