Still unable to resist its techno-philanthropic urges, Google has just unveiled the Web Lab at the Science Museum in London. Paid for entirely with Google juice and constructed in a basement area that was previously used for storage, the exhibition consists of five experiments that help us to "discover the power of the internet while we're on the internet." That might sound cheesy, but we've had a good play with each installation and they're actually very well thought out and accessible -- although, if you're already a hyper-connected nutcase then you might find it more appropriate for friends and family.
We won't give too much away in case it spoils your fun, but you can get a flavor from the attached promo video we saw back at Google I/O, plus our gallery and the PR after the break. In any case, it's safe to say that each experiment involves creating and sharing media in a way you've never tried before. What's more, everything you do is stored in a little personal account in the cloud that you can access using the unique "lab tag" shown in the photo above. (Incidentally, all those symbols floating around in the background represent other individuals who are also currently participating in the project -- which ought to give you some idea of the overall premise.) The exhibition opens to the public tomorrow, is free to enter and follows the same opening hours as the main museum -- although the lab's online dimension will remain active for a distinctly un-British 24-7-365.
Google Web Lab
Google and Science Museum Launch Web Lab
18th July 2012, London...and around the world: Google and the Science Museum have teamed up to create Web Lab, a groundbreaking, year-long exhibition, featuring a series of interactive Chrome Experiments that bring the extraordinary workings of the Internet to life and, we hope, inspire the next generation of computer scientists and enthusiasts.
Visitors to the Science Museum will be able to play with five unique experiments. At the same time, online participants will be able to visit www.chromeweblab.com and interact with the same installations in what is a truly global museum exhibit.
Together, in-museum and online visitors will bring web technologies to life through five experiments:
Universal Orchestra: An Internet-powered eight-piece robotic orchestra creating harmonious music
Sketchbots: Custom-built robots able to take photographs and then sketch them in sand
Data Tracer: A map that traces where the world's online information is physically stored
Teleporter: A series of web-enabled periscopes through which you can instantly access the world (including a 24 hour US bakery!)
Lab Tag Explorer: A real-time visualisation of all Web Lab visitors from around the world that groups and categorises participants in incredible ways.
Each Web Lab experiment uses a modern web technology to explore a particular idea in computer science. But even if you can't tell a WebSocket from HTML5 Canvas, Web Lab will demonstrate the power and potential of the Internet to in-museum and online visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
True to Google's tradition of launching innovative, ambitious ideas and then refining them with user feedback, Wednesday will be Web Lab's 'Beta' launch. But the creative process doesn't end here. Google and the Science Museum want to hear from all online and in-museum visitors about how the Web Lab experience can be improved further in the coming weeks.
Google's Steve Vranakis, Creative Director of Web Lab commented:
The internet is incredible. It powers our lives everyday, allows us to explore the globe and lets us communicate with friends the world over. Until now, all this magic has remained locked behind our screens.
Web Lab changes all that. We've worked with the Science Museum to create unique experiments that will demonstrate the power of the Internet to everyone who visits.
Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum added:
We are delighted that the Science Museum and Google have collaborated in bringing this truly ground breaking exhibition to London. As the venue for the exhibition, it reinforces the museum's role in helping to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Web Lab opens -- both in London and online -- on Thursday 19th July 2012, and is scheduled to run until Summer 2013. Entry to Web Lab is free.