Chrome Experiment: The Future is Middle Earth

BreakingModern — I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we no longer merely browse the World Wide Web. Now we “experience” the Internet. A web browser is so much more than a mere conduit for linking one page to another these days. The browser contains the tools that make audio, video and interaction possible. Take, for example, Middle Earth.


One way you can see the potential of this new-found power is through the Chrome Experiments website, where you will find a link to a truly remarkable experiment called The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies — A Journey Through Middle Earth. Remember, this is a Chrome experiment, so if you are using some other browser you are out of luck. You can download Chrome for free if you’d like to see what you are missing.

Explore Middle Earth

Even if you are not a big fan of Middle-Earth and the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy universe (which is difficult for me to comprehend, but I hear there are people out there that fall into the category), The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies — A Journey Through Middle-Earth website is worth the trip. Think of it as Google Earth meets Middle-Earth, only with videos, stories and games.


When you get to the website and click the BEGIN button you are taken to an interactive map. Here you can follow the paths of the various heroes of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring books and movies, or you can choose to play a game where you fight for either good or evil, or you can simply take a few hours to explore Middle-Earth on your own.

The Hobbit movies are freshest in our minds, so you might want to follow Bilbo on his adventures. If you are like me, you’ve probably wondered how far away Rivendell is from Hobbiton. Is that a long trip? What sort of terrain lies between the two key cities in Bilbo’s story? Using the interactive map to follow Bilbo’s path can answer these questions and many more.


Perhaps you want a little more action. You can choose to play in the Battleground section of the site. Pick a major battle from the story and be transported there for some hack and slash fun, fighting for either the good or evil side. (I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which.) The technological draw of the Battleground section of the site is that you can bring your online friends with you. An instant multiplayer game through a web browser is an accomplishment in and of itself, but with all the Tolkien lore at hand it’s really incredible.


My approach was to simply explore the map. Click on Rivendell and see what you can see. Oh, look, there is Weathertop — I always wondered where that was in relationship to Bree. And where, exactly, is The Lonely Mountain — wow, that’s a long journey for a Hobbit. You could spend hours exploring (well, at least I did).

At each point of interest on the map you’ll find detailed information about the area and clips from the six movies. You can also pick up the paths of the various characters and follow them on their journey from that point forward. It’s really a lot of fun and debuts some remarkable technology.


Chrome on the Move

While all of the interactive parts of this experimental website are fun to play with (especially when you are fans of the Middle-Earth fantasy world), the real purpose is to prototype the potential of modern web browsers and, in particular, Chrome.

The Chrome Experiment gives us a glimpse of what “browsing” the web will become. Increasingly, what we know today as the web browser will become the software, the operating system, if you will, we use to interact with, well, everything. Whether it’s viewing articles on Breaking Modern or watching episodes of Breaking Bad, you’re likely to be doing it over an Internet connection and through a web browser.

A site like The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies — A Journey Through Middle-Earth shows you what is possible. You might want to prepare yourself.

For BMod, I’m

All screenshots: Mark Kaelin

Mark Kaelin

Author: Mark Kaelin

Based in Louisville, KY., Mark W. Kaelin is a tech and gadget writer who also covers fine living for us here at BreakingModern.

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