top of page


London Science Museum / Google

Web Lab / Web Lab open source

Over one year, this unique exhibition existed simultaneously on a cluster of cloud servers and in the basement of the London Science museum. It sought to explain how the modern Web works all the way from the network infrastructure, to privacy, to the rich media APIs powering popular services like YouTube.

From Tellart: "Google Creative Lab and Tellart created the concept of the Web Lab–from the user-experience as an integrated online and onsite experience, to its science museum context and audience, to the optical Lab Tag method for collecting artifacts, to the interactions between digital and physical touchpoints which allow in-museum and online audiences to collaborate.

Visitors to the London Science Museum are able to play with five unique installations, while at the same time, online participants can visit and interact with the same installations. Together, in-museum and online visitors will bring web technologies to life through five experiments."

The in-museum exhibits involved dozens of robotic actuators, video and data streams. In the spirit of trying to know what we were talking about, we built as much of the exhibit using free Web technologies as possible–JavaScript particularly–even when those technologies were pushed to their breaking point by what we were trying to do with them.

My contributions:
Design and writing of the large backend system which allowed realtime, 24/7 communication between the Web half of the exhibition and the physical half of the exhibition. It was, in essence, a large RESTful API combined with a complex message queueing/routing system. This was built in JavaScript (both browser-based and running in node) and Python. Google's proprietary non-relational database system, Datastore, was used as a storage backend. On the physical side, I developed a erasing mechanism for the drawing robots featured in the exhibition, one of which was later acquired by the Smithsonian National Design Museum. I was the on-location technical lead in London during the multi-month build process.

I also had the opportunity to work on the release of much of the code for free under the Apache License 2.0. This included both packaging the source and creation of documentation and examples.

Tellart worked alongside partners Universal Design Studio, MAP, B-Reel, Karsten Schmidt, and Fraser Randall to produce and install the final exhibit.
Photogaphy: Andrew Meredith

bottom of page