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New app provides audio tour of the INL while driving through the Arco desert


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The TravelStorys app. | Courtesy TravelStorysGPS

IDAHO FALLS — If you’ve lived in eastern Idaho for any significant amount of time, you may have wondered about Idaho National Laboratory and what actually happens there.

The INL is working with TravelStorysGPS, a company that created a hands-free, location-aware app people download to get a self-guided audio tour. A tour will also be available for people walking through Experimental Breeder Reactor-I, the world’s first nuclear reactor to produce electricity using atomic power.

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“As much as we try to share with the public what it is we do (at the INL), the more avenues we can use, the better off we are,” INL spokesman Don Miley says.

TravelStorysGPS uses technology to geotag a location and create a radius around it, which is called a geofence. The dimensions of the geofence depend on the length of the audio when visitors will see the thing the audio is talking about and the mode/speed of transportation.

The app uses the device’s location to read where the geofences are set up. Once the phone is inside the geofence, the audio automatically plays.

“We want people to concentrate on their safety and the wonderful things around them rather than their device,” TravelStorysGPS Marketing Coordinator Vicky Kent says.

Each story site is about three to five minutes of audio. Kent says every effort is made to fact check and research to make sure each story is factual, authentic and engaging. No reception is required to use the app and multiple travel speeds and modes are supported.

“Because of the timeframe when you’re traveling 70 miles an hour, it’s not like you’re staring at the place forever, so you’ve got to be pretty succinct,” Miley says. “But we want to give folks a quick idea this is what it was and this is what it’s doing now.”

TravelStorys isn’t new to Idaho. In fact, there are tours available in places like Teton Valley, Sun Valley, and the Silver Creek Preserve. But Kent says every tour is “tailor-made to the tour sponsors’ needs.”

“We’re excited to do it. We think it’s going to be pretty cool,” Miley says. “We hope people download the app and hear what we’re up to with their tax dollars.”

The INL’s goal is to launch the app by Memorial Day weekend. It is compatible with Apple and Android devices.