New Google Chrome Experiment Goes Inside the World of the Hobbit

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-11-30
Google Chrome

New Google Chrome Experiment Goes Inside the World of the Hobbit

With a new Hobbit movie soon to be released, Google is getting Middle-earth fans ready with an interactive, multi-media, exploratory adventure prepared specially for Chrome Web browser users.

The project, called "Journey through Middle-earth," is a game-based adventure that was created to showcase the Google's Chrome Experiments initiative, which combines audio, video, networking and more to show the kinds of content that are possible for mobile users, Max Heinritz, an associate product manager on the Chrome Web Platform team, wrote in a Nov. 20 post on the Google Developers Blog.

"For the past few years, building multimedia Web experiences for mobile devices has been difficult," wrote Heinritz. "Phones and tablets are less powerful than their counterparts, and mobile browsers have traditionally had limited API support. Despite these challenges, the mobile Web is evolving rapidly. In the last few months alone, Chrome for Android gained support for WebGL, WebRTC and Web Audio."

That's where "A Journey through Middle-Earth" comes in, he wrote, providing a way to demonstrate what's now possible on the mobile Web. "Developed by North Kingdom in collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, the experiment uses the latest Web technologies to deliver a multimedia experience designed specifically for tablets, phones and touch-enabled desktops."

The Chrome Experiments are being assembled by creative developers who are using HTML5 and JavaScript as well as open Web technologies such as Canvas, WebGL and WebRTC to explore the possibilities in mobile application design, according to Google. The projects are then posted for users to try out and explore.

Users can explore the adventure using Chrome by going to the experiment's Website on a laptop, phone or tablet, Christos Apartoglou, a Google product marketing manager, wrote in a Nov. 20 post on the Google Chrome Blog. "Inspired by the upcoming motion picture 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,' 'Journey through Middle-earth' brings the locations and characters from the movie trilogy to life with a mix of modern Web technologies," wrote Apartoglou.

"Your adventure starts on a beautiful, interactive map of Middle-earth. Zoom in to explore Trollshaw Forest, Rivendell and Dol Guldur (with more locations to come in the next few weeks). Click on each one to learn its history and meet the characters who inhabit it, or dive further to test your wits on a unique survival challenge," he wrote.

Previous Chrome Experiments used the CSS3- and WebGL-based graphics used in this new experiment, he wrote. "But 'Journey through Middle-earth' is the first Chrome Experiment designed to bring this beautiful, 3D experience to mobile, thanks to support for WebGL in Chrome for Android on devices with high-end graphics cards."

The Web Audio API, which is now supported on both Chrome for Android and Chrome for iPhone and iPad, is used to incorporate the audio effects and sound manipulation in the experiment, he wrote. "Although WebGL isn't supported on iOS, Chrome users can still experience most of 'Journey through Middle-earth' on their iPhones and iPads. We can't wait to see what sort of rich experiences developers will build as modern Web technologies become available on more types of devices."

New Google Chrome Experiment Goes Inside the World of the Hobbit

Chrome Experiments began in 2009, when Google unleashed the project as a showcase for creative Web experiments for its Chrome Web browser. The projects are contributed by people around the world. Most of the experiments are built with the HTML5, Canvas, SVG and WebGL.

In June 2013, Google introduced a video game, Cube Slam, to demonstrate and show off WebRTC capabilities. WebRTC allows users to see, hear and communicate with each other using only a Web browser, whether they are playing a game or participating in an online video conference. Google has been working on WebRTC projects for some time as a Google Chrome Experiments project. The technology could find its way into many other business and consumer uses in the future. The Cube Slam video game lets users play face-to-face against their friends by simply using a WebRTC-enabled browser.

In May, Google unveiled two other Chrome Experiments mobile video games–Roll It and Racer–aimed at slot-car-racing and Skee-ball fans, giving them the ability to play with other people using phones, tablets and computers running Chrome. Roll It is a modern-day version of the classic boardwalk Skee-ball game that players can play using a browser on their phone, desktop or laptop computer, while Racer lets players build slot-car-style race tracks, which can then align across up to five mobile screens that are used by friends who have joined the game.

This is the second time in recent months that Google has been involved in a project involving a major fantasy motion picture. In July, Google's Street View cameras went inside the Harry Potter studio in London to give viewers an inside virtual tour. In the inner sanctum of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, the sets and scenery from the beloved Harry Potter films are on display for visitors in real life. They can virtually visit the inside of The Great Hall and the oft-seen cobblestones of Diagon Alley, where Harry and his friends began their adventures. The Street View images include the infamous Diagon Alley marketplace using the 360-degree views and full-color imagery provided by Street View.

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