Visions of the Future

A look at Monmouth’s new interactive digital media concentration.

Imagine you could experience what it’s like to drive one of the world’s fastest luxury cars through the Swiss Alps from the comfort of your living room.

Recently, Porsche made this possible by utilizing augmented reality technology. Potential customers anywhere in the world could download an app that lets them feel as if they are strapped into the driver’s seat of their own customized Porsche, racing against others.

This space, where entertainment and technology meet business and marketing via digital platforms, is what students pursuing Monmouth’s new Interactive Digital Media (IDM) concentration in communication will be exploring.

“IDM will offer an opportunity to deep dive and explore transmedia storytelling through interactive and immersive hardware platforms,” says Dickie Cox, assistant professor and concentration director for IDM. “We’ll be working with emerging technology to explore the ramifications of physical computing, mixed reality technologies, and ambient computing into elements of the built environment, of work life, of play and leisure, marketing and advertising.”

The concentration will support those interested in a slew of fields and careers from game design and experiential marketing (think special pop-up events where consumers can participate in a brand experience) to web development, applied animation, content creation, and more.

Cox says IDM is a highly interdisciplinary concentration where students are required to take classes in computer science, communication, and business with the option of taking art and design classes. The hope is to have students with different backgrounds and passions “cross-inform” one another as they work on analyzing, creating, and pitching functional business plans that address real-world problems.

The new concentration—which will see its inaugural cohort this fall—is complemented by the opening of the brand new Interactive Digital Media Lab located in Plangere Center. Outfitted with state-of-the-art technology—including virtual and augmented reality headsets, video projection remapping tools, 2D- and 3D-scanning stations, a grid system outfitted with DMX lights, and game design tools—the lab will not only allow students to utilize cutting-edge technology, but will also provide a backdrop where students can think about how to utilize that technology in new ways.

“Technology moves quickly, and I want us to be able to respond with it,” says Cox, who in 2017 pitched the idea for the new IDM lab, which opened to students this spring. “We’re early adopters. We’re investigators. We want to be able to see, ‘OK, how do these things work?’ and ‘What can we do with them?’”