The Idaho Virtualization Laboratory (IVL) is a research unit of Idaho Museum of Natural History on the campus of Idaho State University. Our lab houses state-of-the-art technology for imaging, virtualization, and simulation of material items, landscapes, and life. We provide education, research, and informatics to the social and natural sciences.
What We Do
The equipment housed at the IVL is intended for use in the virtual archiving of valuable museum collections, materials from archaeological and paleontological excavations, faunal remains, and all other applicable aspects of cultural and natural history. Many items of this field, such as those housed in museum and teaching collections, are perishable or easily damaged by repeated handling. The goal in creating virtual archives of such collections is to preserve the integrity of the specimens and provide alternative access to collections.
The IVL serves as a laboratory for applying this technology to research, teaching, and outreach projects developed by scientists and educators. We openly encourage interdepartmental research, and have an open door policy to all earnest scientific endeavors conducted by our colleagues here at Idaho State University, local and regional administrative agencies, and other academic institutions.
Since 2008 we have been working on a National Science Foundation funded project titled the “Virtual Zooarchaeology of the Arctic Project,” or VZAP. VZAP is a virtual and interactive osteological reference collection for the study of northern vertebrates. VZAP is a dynamic natural history archive that allows students and researchers to examine the complete skeletal anatomies of multiple bird, mammal and fish species in both 2D and 3D.
The IVL’s near-term focus is on a number of interesting projects. These include a global effort to scan whale skeletons, and the Virtual Museum of Idaho, where we will scan and put online much of the collection from the Idaho Museum of Natural History as part of an ongoing effort to democratize science through virtualization.