Google touts Chrome browser in demo of Cirque virtual 3D Web site

Google looks to show customers how its new Nexus 7 tablet will run its Chrome software for Web browsing

Google co-founder Sergey Brin today played the role of ringmaster in a modern-day circus for the second time at Google I/O as parachutists jumped from an airship to the roof of San Francisco's Moscone Center and bikers jumped and then rappelled down the exterior of the building.

Inside, entertainers from Cirque du Soleil offered a brief preview of how they are transforming their live acrobatic performances into a virtual world using a Web site built using HTML5 and CSS3 tools and designed to run on almost any Web-based device.

The performers offered a brief demo of the new site on a Google Chromebook, an iPad and a Macbook running Google's Chrome operating system.

At one point, an acrobat in the virtual world moved through 3-dimensional space and drew applause from the Google I/O audience of developers.

Called a "sensory Chrome Experiment crafted by Cirque du Soleil," the "Movi, Kanti, Revo" site is named for the three Esperanto words for "Moving, Singing and Dreaming."

Users of the site follow a mysterious hostess and use gestures and sounds to navigate the world created by Cirque du Soleil.

The site will use sensor technology to detect the gestures. Neither Google or Cirque would elaborate on the sensor technology involved.

The on-stage demo was done by Joanne Fillion of Cirque and Aubrey Anderson of Subatomic, a partner in the project.

The site is slated to launch in September, but Cirque has posted a 45-second video giving a movie-trailer type preview and is allowing visitors to register to be kept informed on its progress.

The Movi, Kanti, Revo site says that visitors will find a virtual world where they can view Cirque performances "and live an emotional journey made of love, doubts, hope and dreams."

The evolution of Chrome as both a browser and an OS was also a centerpiece of the second-day Google I/O keynote -- a stark contrast to the launch of Google's Nexus 7 tablet and Nexus Q media hub, and the announcement that the Google Play store now houses some 400,000 apps.

Google announced Thursday that the Chrome browser now runs on Apple's iPhone and iPad. Chrome for Android was announced in February.

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Google Chrome, noted that the new Cirque Web site -- and others -- will run well on tablets like the Nexus 7, which runs the new Android 4.1 OS, also known as Jelly Bean.

Pichai summarized much of the Chrome news from his keynote in a blog, complete with a video.

Even though the Cirque Web site preview wowed the Google I/O crowd, some reporters left the hall grousing that Cirque acrobats didn't do any stunts at all on the stage.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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