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Idaho National Laboratory unveils new virtual tour tool during NNSW

IDAHO FALLS – University and industry representatives, government leaders and members of the public now have a new, visually compelling means of finding out what kind of nuclear energy research goes on at Idaho National Laboratory, which serves as the National Nuclear Laboratory. In conjunction with the 2012 observance of National Nuclear Science Week, the laboratory has launched a first-of-its kind mobile app to allow smartphone and tablet users to quickly and easily get a sense of INL’s nuclear energy research capabilities and facilities, without investing the multiple days it would take for a comparable in-person tour.

“Time is a precious resource for all of us,” said Harold McFarlane, interim associate laboratory director for Nuclear Science and Technology. “By making this comprehensive app available, we’re able to save time and money for our own staff and more importantly, that of prospective research partners and industry representatives who need to know in real time if we’ve got the assets and abilities they’re looking for to develop, test and prove their theses and technologies.”

“The fact is, the nation has made significant investments in establishing unique infrastructure for advancing nuclear energy research, development, demonstration and deployment here in Idaho,” said David Hill, deputy laboratory director for Science and Technology. “Because no one can afford to recreate what we have at INL, it’s critical that we do what we can to increase awareness of these distinctive capabilities. That’s where this app comes in. With it, industry, regulators and others can most effectively and cost-efficiently assess us and make more informed decisions about accessing us to conduct the work needed to improve the safety and sustainability of nuclear energy – the power source that provides over two-thirds of our nation’s greenhouse gas-free electricity.”

In a straightforward way, the INL Nuclear Research Virtual Tour App provides a quick overview of the lab, a description of the national priority nuclear research it performs, what specific capabilities INL has to perform the research, concluding with a pictorial guide of the discrete facilities involved. Through a blend of videos, photos, illustrations and text, virtual visitors can gain a fuller notion of what exists and what’s possible in groundbreaking nuclear energy research at INL.

Taking the virtual tour is as simple as loading the mobile app from nuclearapp.inl.gov. It’s optimized for iPads, iPhones and Android tablets and smartphones. Accessing it requires an internet connection and an HTML5/JavaScript-enabled browser like Apple Safari or Google Chrome. The Google Chrome Frame plug-in makes the app viewable on Internet Explorer as well. A native Android app for tablets is currently available; efforts continue on development of native Android smartphone and iOS apps. A condensed version of the app is available in flipbook form at http://www.inl.gov/publications/the-national-nuclear-laboratory