The Cube, Google's latest flight of technological fancy, is trying to change the way we listen to songs and watch and interact with video.
Described as an "experimental platform for interactive storytelling," the Cube is basically a box -- as its name suggests -- that appears on your computer or smartphone's screen and can be manipulated left, right, up and down.
Playing with a virtual polygon in itself doesn't sound particularly innovative, exciting or Google-esque, but each side of the virtual cube is a screen showing a different video and playing a different audio track. Rotating to one of the cube's faces brings the sound and vision on that side front and center. But because you can tilt the cube in any direction, more than one side can be exposed at any one time so that there are different videos playing simultaneously.
It's good fun and to show its potential, Google has teamed up with Australian group The Presets to show what the Cube can do. As well as making music videos more interactive and entertaining, it could be used for changing narrative structure in a film or within performance art for example.
In 2000 British director Mike Figgis made a film called "Timecode" to explore the storytelling possibilities that digital video offered. With no need to cut or to reload film, the resulting movie is four 90-minute single takes, shot from four different perspectives and screened simultaneously in a four-image grid. To grab viewers' attention, Figgis fades dialogue up and down so that foucs shifts from one story to another. During its premiere, Figgis performed a live sound mix directing the audience as he would a play.
With the Cube, the same thing could be done with six interwoven perspectives instead, and the viewer could switch between stories and perspectives themselves by dragging the mouse or wiping the screen.
The Cube is free to play with, but it will only run with the latest version of Google's Chrome browser.