Google Doodle Mystery May Be Unveiled at Search Event

Google's new Doodle is causing quite a stir in the blogosphere ahead of the company's Sept. 8 search event. Does the interactivity point to Google's live or instant search?

Google's post-Labor Day Doodle is causing quite a stir in the blogosphere Sept. 7, spurring speculation about whether the mysterious, interactive graphic portends new technology from the company.

When users go to Google's classic home search page today, they are treated to a Google logo written in small balls of different shapes.

Each time a user moves the cursor close to the balls, the balls dynamically blow up the word Google or scatter all over the screen. When the cursor wanders away, the balls return to their rightful place.

Curiously, the balls are almost colored in Google's classic blue, red, green and yellow logo colors, except here the normally yellow second "O" in "Google" has been replaced by the color orange. See a video of the animation in action here.

How did this happen? Hacker News said the graphic employs an HTML/JavaScript particle simulator.

Google is telling media outlets it wanted to offer a logo that is "fast, fun and interactive," which certainly fits the bill here.

The timing is interesting because the logo appears a full day before Google is hosting its fall search event.

Tomorrow, Google has invited media to analysts to "join us on Wednesday, September 8, to share our latest technological innovation and to get an inside look at the evolution of Google search."

Speakers include Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, Johanna Wright, director of product management, Ben Gomes, distinguished engineer, and Othar Hansson, senior staff software engineer.

Gomes may be the key puzzle piece here. Gomes in 2008 discussed search experiments in a Google blog post, including such failures as Search Wiki.

Gomes and his fellow Googlers could introduce the instant or live search seen in the wild. This technology updates search results on the fly as users type them into the search box.

Perhaps the new search tools will bring Google closer to the artificial intelligence or "automatic search Google CEO Eric Schmidt is fond of discussing. Schmidt discussed this sort of search at IFA in Berlin today.

The integration of Google's new Metaweb technology would provide richer snippets and semantic search, adding more meat to the bread that is Google freshened search user interface on top and Caffeine search algorithms on the bottom.

One industry analyst refused to make a concrete connection between the Google Doodle and the search event, but joked to eWEEK:

"Maybe it means that Google has too many balls in the air and they're working on a simulator with 'crowd-sourced' QA testing."

That would certainly qualify as "fast, fun and interactive."

eWEEK welcomes any guesses as to the provenance of the Google Doodle and the pending news from Google's search event tomorrow in the comments below.