New Google Chrome Experiment Goes Inside the World of the Hobbit

Google creates a Hobbit-based Chrome Experiment just in time for the upcoming new Hobbit film.

Google Chrome

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."