Computer Graphics World

March/April 2013

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■ ■ ■ ■ Digitizing Idaho Virtualization Laboratory uses 3D imaging to put natural history in the hands of the world Specimens hether intentional or not, the study of natural history has almost always been exclusionary, limited to those who have access to the rare specimens collected by museums and research institutions. But what if researchers, teachers, and students could use remote computers to closely examine rare species and artifacts? Democratizing and Demystifying Since 2003, the Idaho Virtualization Laboratory (IVL) in Pocatello, Idaho, has been facilitating exactly these types of learning and research opportunities. Under the guidance of Lab Director Dr. Herb Maschner, IVL's mission is to apply 3D imaging for the benefit of science and education. In large part, this means working to democratize science. "We want to take this closed world and open it up, put it in the hands of everyone," says Lab Manager Robert Schlader. "Demystify it. Play with it." IVL's expanding 3D imaging capabilities are advancing research, improving collaboration, encouraging education and outreach, and helping archivists better preserve history collections. With IVL's help, museums, researchers, and scientists can easily archive and share accurate virtual 3D copies of valuable collections for easy retrieval, teaching purposes, research, and posterity, all 30 Scan technician Jesse Pruitt surfaces a Helicoprion specimen (IMNH-37899) using Geomagic Studio. the while preserving the often-fragile original artifacts. IVL has made the collection of the Idaho Museum of Natural History available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world. Maschner and his team also have an agreement with the Smithsonian Institution to help capture whale skeletons and other artifacts and convert them into 3D images. Menagerie of Artifacts In its laboratory space on the Idaho State University campus, IVL houses seven laser surface scanners and Geomagic Studio software, which allow researchers to sample and process digital shapes rapidly and efficiently without sacrificing accuracy. The 3D technological tool set is used to scan a vast range of skeletal remains into March/April 2013 CGW0313-LVIpfin.indd 30 3/14/13 12:18 PM

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