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Follow the wizard in Google’s latest Oz-themed interactive Chrome experiment

If you were one of the procrastinators Chrome users who enjoyed playing with virtual Lego pieces in your browser, you’ll appreciate Google’s latest experiment. Built in partnership with Disney and production company Unit 9 ahead of the release of Oz: The Great and Powerful, the Find your way to Oz site uses the browser’s abilities to transport you into the world of green witches and munchkins.

Stage by stage, you can use your mouse to navigate through a circus ground and carnival tent and ultimately steer a hot air balloon through a dark and twisty tornado. If you make it through all the challenges, you are rewarded with an exclusive unreleased clip from the movie (spoiler: it involves James Franco and co. floating around in some giant bubbles). So… what’s the catch? You have to be using Chrome, of course.

The experiment incorporates tasks that are similar to some of the doodles Google has created in the past — like composing a song, which you are also able to share with your networks. It also takes advantage of Chrome’s ability to access and incorporate input from your webcam and microphone (with your permission) in some of the features, like the photobooth and make-your-own-vintage-movie zoetrope. The site is an intense undertaking if you’ve got an old computer though — it works best if you’ve got a machine with a fast internet connection that can handle advanced graphics, although you can choose whether to give speed or HD graphics priority at the start of the game.

As Google’s marketing manager Christos Apartoglou points out, creating an experiment like this would have been impossible just a few years ago — but the web has evolved to allow the level of detailed interactive experiences the site features. “For ‘Find your way to Oz’, the 3D environment was built entirely with new technologies such as WebGL and CSS3,” he explains. “It’s enhanced by rich audio effects thanks to the Web Audio API. The photo booth and zoetrope were built using the getUserMedia feature of WebRTC.”

Author | Lauren Granger

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping tech sites and Twitter than she was in picking up one of those printed things called 'newspapers', she decided to specialise in... More

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