#GoogleExpeditions takes you on a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace while Brotli will enhance your experience.
Just after yesterday’s announcement that Google Chrome is going to become much faster thanks to a new algorithm, Google for Education takes its first UK landmark tour of none other than Buckingham Palace.
First things first, yesterday ’Brotli’ was introduced to the world: this is Google’s new technology which will allow the browser to compress information up to 26 per cent faster, resulting in a faster browser speed. Google state that they believe our time is valuable, so waiting for web pages to load should be a thing of the past.
The change in Chrome is only a small change to the algorithm but the result will be a big increase in browser speed. ‘Brotli’, the new technology, will replace the existing ‘Zopfli’ compression algorithm to make our browser super fast. Another benefit, according to Google, will be that battery life will be saved and data transfer fees will be lowered as computers will have to download less information.
Zopfli had received a positive response, so it was integrated into several compression functions such as PNG optimisers and preprocessing web content. As the need for further compression in modern applications such as web font compression has increased, Google have evolved their technology to an open source new algorithm: Brotli compression algorithm.
Google states: “The higher data density is achieved by a 2nd order context modeling, re-use of entropy codes, larger memory window of past data and joint distribution codes. Just like Zopfli, the new algorithm is named after Swiss bakery products. Brötli means ‘small bread’ in Swiss German.”
We are not yet sure when Brotli will be launched but it is likely to happen within the next few weeks, according to Andrew Griffin for the Independent.
Now to the really exciting bit – the first virtual reality tour in the UK through Google Expeditions. The Guardian nicely explains the experience as: “Hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren around the world are to be “teleported” into Buckingham Palace as part of a virtual reality project with Google.” The way it works is by “using a special app and a cardboard stereoscopic viewer and smartphone”. Other than being a famous UK landmark, the reason for choosing this location for the first UK virtual tour was thanks to pupils at Barclay primary school in Leyton, who specifically chose the palace as their top choice of location to visit.
The Virtual Tour of the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen begins outside the entrance. Watching the video on YouTube, our tour guide – the Master of the Household – opens the doors to the Grand Entrance, which leads us to a huge reception covered in sumptuous red carpet and marble pillars, adorning a wide wing of stairs. His role is over 400 years old. We also get to meet Anna, the curator for paintings of the Royal Collection Trust. She explains the history of the palace transforming from family home of George III to modern day palace.
Following Anna upstairs to the various rooms we really get to appreciate the opulence and magnificence of the decorations and furniture. Also, the paintings of all of the ancestors of the Royal Family are a history lesson in their own right.
Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program is a free service to teachers and students. Their aim: “Imagine visiting the bottom of the sea or the surface of Mars in an afternoon. With Expeditions, teachers can take their classes on immersive virtual journeys to bring their lessons to life.” Sounds truly magical. Their website alone is already an enticing slider of out of this world images appealing to the adventurous nature in all of us.
Google describes Expeditions as: “Expeditions is a virtual reality platform built for the classroom. We worked with teachers and content partners from around the world to create more than 100 engaging journeys – making it easy to immerse students in entirely new experiences.”
Whether it’s taking a virtual 360 degree tour of Machu Picchu, following a sea turtle swim in the vast ocean or learning about coral reefs, these expeditions allow students to virtually go to far away geographic locations and experience events they might otherwise never see.
For now, the number of schools which can participate are limited and so far only the United States, Sweden, Alaska, Hawaii and Canada have taken part. Today, the UK joined this privileged group. Let’s hope there will be many more UK locations to follow. If you could choose where would you like to be teleported to?