A Google Chrome View of Middle-earth | TechWell

A Google Chrome View of Middle-earth

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

Long before there was J.K. Rowling’s universe of Harry Potter and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it was J.R.R. Tolkien who established the literary standard with a fantasy world called Middle-earth. It was there that we encountered hobbits Bilbo Baggins and Frodo, along with Sam and Took, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and an assortment of elves, dwarves, and other creatures from Tolkien’s extraordinary imagination.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have enthralled and inspired many, including Google.

On its Chrome blog, Google announced its latest Chrome Experiment—“Journey through Middle-earth.”

Inspired by the upcoming motion picture The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug slated for a December 2013 release, the characters and locations from the movie can be explored in immersive 3-D graphical representative of Tolkien’s maps of Middle-earth. So far, Trollshaw Forrest, Rivendell, and Dol Guldur are unlocked, with more locations promised to follow.

Google developed the project with North Kingdom in collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. It’s also the first Chrome Experiment designed to bring the 3-D experience to mobile, via support for WebGL in Chrome for Android on devices with high-end graphics cards. 

According to Google, “The rich audio effects and sound manipulation are delivered through the Web Audio API, now supported on both Chrome for Android and Chrome for iPhone and iPad. Although WebGL isn’t supported on iOS, Chrome users can still experience most of ‘Journey through Middle-earth’ on their iPhones and iPads.”

If you’re curious about technical details, you can delve into the team’s technical case study

And while Google’s web browser technology is indeed wizardly, it does not begin to compare to the original works of J.R.R. Tolkien. So go ahead and discover Hobbits and Middle-earth through text, animations, and audio. But do read these brilliant books—hardcover, paperback, or tablet! 

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