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Interactive Annual 19:

Chrome Web Lab

Launch Live Site

“Google opens the door to the possibilities of the web with an astonishing set of installations at the Science Museum in London that can be experienced by anyone anywhere in the world.” —Dave Curry

“A series of inventive and engaging experiences that convey the innovative possibilities of Google technology platforms.”
—Scott Prindle

Overview: This revolutionary five-experiment exhibition highlights the way technology allows people to connect and engage with each other in real-time. It’s the online component of a year-long exhibition in London’s Science Museum featuring a series of interactive Chrome experiments that bring the intricacies of the web to life. In what is a truly global exhibit both online and museum visitors are able to make live music with people from across the world, be instantly transported thousands of miles away through a series of 360-degree live streams, have their portrait drawn in the sand by a robot and trace routes across the Internet’s vast network of servers.

  • • The Web Lab was launched in beta in July 2012. Since then it has been experienced by over 4 million online visitors from 196 countries and 200,000 museum visitors, resulting in 2.75 million user-generated creations. Web Lab continues 24/7 until summer 2013.
  • • The site is accessible in eight languages other than English, including Japanese and Russian. Every visitor to the exhibition, whether online or in the museum, is given a Lab Tag that can be scanned at each experiment to let users track their movement through the exhibit. After leaving the exhibit, visitors can use it to access their artifacts and revisit the exhibition remotely.

Comments by Google Creative Lab

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “There were a lot of challenges across all the experiments, but one we had to address for the Universal Orchestra stands out. We needed a way of keeping all the instruments and video in sync, despite the lag introduced by streaming around the globe. The solution we came up with syncs the interface based on the video—each note stretches out and then ‘snaps’ into place—and includes a visualization of the latency that makes it intuitive for users to play.”

What software, backend technology and programming languages were used? “Thanks to evolving web technologies, the experiments push the ever-widening limits of what's possible in browsers: Universal Orchestra, an Internet-powered, eight-piece orchestra uses WebSockets and a NodeJS backend for real-time collaboration. In Sketchbots, WebRTC and HTML5 Canvas enable custom-built robots to take photographs and sketch them in sand. Data Tracer uses WebGL to track and present where the world’s online information is physically stored. Teleporter is a series of web-enabled periscopes to view the world; it uses WebGL to wrap a video stream into a 360-degree panorama and the WebM codec to deliver it to the browser. Finally, Lab Tag Explorer uses WebGL to create a dynamic 3-D environment to display on-site Web Lab visitors.”


B-Reel/Bibliotheque/Fraser Randall/Karsten Schmidt/Tellart/Universal Design Studio/Weir + Wong, development partners
Google Creative Lab (London, United Kingdom), project design and development/client

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