This summer Google opened Web Lab exhibition at the Science Museum in London, showcasing the incredible things that can be done in a web browser and of course promoting Google Chrome along the way. Recently I’ve paid a visit myself to see what it’s all about.
The exhibition is in quite a sharp contrast to some of the museum’s other displays. For example I found a Mac running System 7 (first released all the way back in 1991) that was still being used for a medical exhibit. If anything it is of course a testament to Apple’s engineering, a computer that’s still running daily for two decades.
But anyway, Google Web Lab is meant to showcase latest cutting edge technology. Entering a spacious basement filled with weird music, you immediately notice everywhere futuristic devices and décor. It reminds me somewhat of a sci-fi spaceship, but in a good, a little bit geeky sort of way. You are then given a card by one of the attendants, that will serve as a passport to all the “experiments” that you try, allowing you to not only save your progress, but also to retrieve it once you get home. Some of the experiments are equipped with cameras and microphones, with your recorded footage going straight to the YouTube.
There are five experiments you can play with, all controlled on the client side through Google Chrome. One traces a remote image to its physical location on the map, accompanied by a nice visuals on the wall. Another one let’s you compose music by dragging objects on the grid that represent instruments in front of you. And my favourite experiment takes a picture of you and draws it on the sand with a robotic arm. The whole process from photo to a finished sand painting takes about a minute and results are pretty awesome.
Google is trying to connect something purely virtual with a real physical world. It’s quite difficult to do because they are so far apart, especially when it comes to browsers. If anything, Google is bringing the Web closer then ever, albeit in quite an unusual way.