Google Chrome Web Lab

As everyone knows, the internet is amazing. However its workings are so vastly complex that we are increasingly immersed in a world of magic, connected by technology we cannot understand. Thankfully the Masters of the Internet, Google, are here to rescue us with an utterly amazing project which not only stretches the magical potential of existing web technologies but also tells us how they work: Google Chrome Web Lab.

The Web Lab comprises a highly interactive website and an entire exhibition at London’s Science Museum, connecting the web with the real world in five amazing ways:

Web Lab - Universal Orchestra

1. Universal Orchestra allows web users to play virtual instruments in random online jam sessions with other visitors from around the world. Start playing the marimba and in a few moments you will be joined by someone from Russia on the vibraphone, or someone from Brazil on the drums. But even more amazingly than that, the Universal Orchestra allows you, a web user, to control physical instruments in the Science Museum, playing alongside museum visitors, while you observe via a live video stream! Imagine controlling your own set of Felix’s Machines, with an instant audience in central London, and you’ve got the general idea.

Web Lab - Sketchbot

2. Sketchbots are machines which draw pictures in sand. If you take your photo using a webcam, you can see it rendered into drawable form online and might even get to watch as a Sketchbot draws your portrait live in the Science Museum.

Web Lab - Datatracer

3. Data Tracer allows you to search for any image on the web and then instantly traces the route to it’s physical location on the internet (i.e. where the server it is held on is located).

4. Teleporter uses live panoramic webcams to take you instantly from one side of the world to the other. You can currently visit Amelie’s Bakery, North Carolina (USA); the airport at the amazing Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg (Germany); and Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town (South Africa).

5. Lab Tag Explorer uses fluid data visualisation to give all participants a birds-eye view of how many people are interacting, where they’re from and what they’re doing.

Each section has accompanying videos and information describing the relevant web technologies that were used in their creation.

Although Chrome Web Lab is currently still in Beta (still might have some bugs), it’s a fantastic exhibition of the web’s current state of the art and an inspirational way to learn how it all works. You can visit the exhibition at London Science Museum until 20 June 2013, or on the web right now.

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