Disclaimer: Not surprisingly being a Google experiment, this widget only works on Chrome and Android devices. If you're (understandably) not inclined to use either of those, the video at the end of the post shows the Cube in action.
Google continue to blur the lines between technology and creativity with the latest incarnation of their digital experiment, the Cube. Taking the latest single "No Fun" from Australian Synth Trance duo the Presets, the Cube plays six videos at the same time. The user controls the Cube, moving it around to play a different element of the song from each side. Not only do you hear the song in a completely unique way, you also see six separate videos that were filmed for the song. And if you just want to play the song, there's the option to do that too.
It generated hype in certain circles around the Presets and their latest release, much like Arcade Fire did with their Google collaborations to release their recent albums. The No Fun Cube received coverage from both technology and music sites, helping spread the song to listeners who are most likely to enjoy the duo. There’s also the option to buy the track straight from the widget, share it across social networks and easily embed it onto websites and blogs.
The fact that the widget can only be played on Google Chrome has probably converted a few more users to the browser.
For branding, Google continues to reinforce the perception that it’s experimental, creative and forward-thinking rather than a group of geeky programmers. The full stats are yet to be released, but it would be intriguing to find out the results of this trial as a potential marketing channel.
And that’s what it is. Rather than being a one-off web gimmick, Google are pushing it as "a new platform for storytelling". Tom Uglow, Creative Director at Google Creative Lab, explains the inspiration behind it:
"We think the cube [sic] shows what will be possible in the near future with smartphone technology and modern browsers. We hope it inspires clever creative people to play, to design, and to imagine narrative when you start adding extra dimensions. Screens that interact and cross-pollinate, a film that is different every time, released from linear restraints of TV.”
As well as film and TV entertainment, the Cube could be an interesting educational tool. Professor Ernő Rubik created his famous puzzle to teach his students how to find order in chaos. That same principle could be applied with this technology.
For example, it could teach musical composition. A song could be broken down into different elements, such as by instrument. As with the No Fun Cube above, there would be the option to hear the song in its entirety or broken down into a different combination of the elements. Hearing how each part relates to the wider context of the song, like the intricate link between the rhythms of drums and other lead instruments, could be a useful teaching method for music pupils. And if there are more instruments, why stop at a cube? Why not an interactive icosahedron?
Although it’s still early days, the Cube is an interesting step forward in how video content is going to be watched in the future, and the potential it has for communicating ideas. To see more on how the project came about and how it was made, watch the video below.