The goal of Web Lab was to showcase the incredible yet often invisible workings of the modern internet. The major design opportunity was to create a synthesized physical and virtual (in-museum and online) experience where people could share a sense of social presence and collaborate on creative activities while learning about how the web works.
Web Lab is the first major museum exhibition to integrate in-museum and online visitors with equal measure. Web Lab is a groundbreaking, year-long exhibition, featuring a series of interactive Chrome Experiments that bring the extraordinary workings of the internet to life. Visitors to Science Museum (London) play and learn collaboratively with online visitors through controlling physical machines, in what is truly a global museum exhibit.
Google Creative Lab hired WEIR+WONG to work as executive producers alongside a myriad of production partners; Tellart was responsible for the design, engineering, and build of the physical experiments. B-Reel created the Web Lab brand, the interface and interaction design on the web, and worked with Tellart to provide the interfaces used in-museum. Other partners included: Universal Design Studio (architectural/furniture design), Karsten Schmidt (Lab Tag/Connector design/software), and Fraser Randall (construction/installation management).
Alongside this WEIR+WONG produced all the marketing materials including banners, YouTube mastheads, digital outdoor x-track projections, printed posters and internal schwagg.
Web Lab Experiments:
– Universal Orchestra: An Internet-powered eight-piece orchestra creating harmonious music
– Sketchbots: Custom-built robots able to take photographs and sketch them in sand
– Data Tracer: A tool to trace 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 an undersea kelp forest in South Africa!)
– Lab Tag Explorer: A visualisation of all Web Lab visitors from around the world that groups and categorises participants in incredible ways.
The international audience of tourists, as well as thousands of school groups each year, made London Science Museum the perfect venue for this exhibition. It also meant that the physical experiments needed to be built for high throughput and heavy hands-on use. The website needed to provide creative queueing solutions to manage the extremely large number of online visitors using a limited set of in-museum physical experiments. Enabling high levels of both personalization and privacy for visitors in-museum and online provided a multitude of design constraints and lead to significant user-experience design innovations.
Launched for back to school time, Web Lab inspired people of all ages to learn more about how the modern web works.
Web Lab reached an audience of all ages, everywhere in the world. Annual traffic for a science museum exhibition can reach the high hundreds of thousands of visitors; Web Lab extended this to millions by integrating an online, remote control, collaborative experience. It also allowed the Science Museum to extend audience engagement as visitors continued to experiment after returning home.
During its run, over 150,000 people visited the exhibition and another 2.5 million participated online.
Awwwards.com – Site of the Day
Awwwards.com – Site of the Month
Cannes Lions – Bronze in Design
Cannes Lions – Silver in Interactive
IxDA – Interaction Award
FWA – Site of the day
FWA – Site of the Month
The Lovie Awards – Design, Gold Winner