Google has quite a bit in common with British rock band Radiohead: both have reputations for shattering corporate and artistic boundaries, both make constant headlines in the tech press regardless of what they do, and both will likely be seen as icons of early-21st-century futurism for years to come. (And both likely have some beef with record label EMI: Radiohead ditched the label to embark upon the high-seas adventure that is In Rainbows; Google lost chief information officer Douglas Merrill to EMI earlier this year.)
But it's still a surprise that Google, long known for keeping its hands out of content creation, has chosen to outright promote Radiohead's new video, for the In Rainbows track "House of Cards." The reason? The super-cool technology behind it.
"A few weeks ago we heard about a project Radiohead was working on," Google product manager Ola Rosling wrote in a post on the company blog on Monday. "The band was making a new video, but they weren't using any cameras, just lasers and data. As you might imagine, we were intrigued."
The video, a trippy display of 3D renderings that show faces, conversations, and eroding architecture, uses scanning technology from Geometric Informatics and Velodyne.
A Google-hosted site for "House of Cards" leads interested viewers to the video, a "making of" clip along with links to learning more about data visualization and laser technology, and options to embed a Google "gadget" containing the video or a Radiohead iGoogle theme--as well as play with the technology itself.
"Whether you're a music fan or a developer (or both), we agreed with the band that it would be great to give you a deeper look into how all of this was done," Rosling wrote, "and even a chance to play with the data yourself, under a license that allows remixing."
Google, for that matter, uses 3D laser scanning for its Street View project. And it's been taking more interest in the art world, hosting a glitzy event in May to kick off artist-designed themes for the iGoogle personal home age service.