The media augmented exercise machine (MAXM) project grew out of a series of design studios at the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. Students in the professional program worked on problems related to the inhabitation of Extreme Environments.

One studio (Fall 1999) considered the design of work surfaces for use in microgravity environments, and another, Mars surface habitation strategies. (Fall 2000)

From these projects came an understanding of the necessity of exercise as a means to mitigate the physiological adaptation to microgravity, as well as an appreciation of the psychosocial issues involved in the long duration inhabitation of isolated and confined environments.