While everything these days seem to be #simisaialsoSG50, this is one SG50 exhibition that you shouldn’t scratch off just yet. Google has launched their first Google Shophouse on Spottiswoode Park Road to celebrate Singapore’s Jubilee year, and in true Google style, brings a new innovative twist to exploring Singapore’s history and culture.
Harnessing their existing technology in Google Maps, YouTube, and their large database of information, Google brings to this offline site an online experience, equipped with Chromebooks and Android devices to help visitors interact with Singapore’s history and culture in a new way.
The shophouse was officially introduced to the Singapore media today by guest-of-honour Mr. Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth, who led the tour of the two-storey space. Google shared that they had worked with several government bodies such as MCCY, the National Heritage Board (NHB), and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), amongst many other partners, to make this SG50 tribute a reality.
While the place is filled with Singapore’s history and culture, it is predominantly a showcase of Google’s technology rather than an SG50 exhibition — but it works. The place is so packed with Google’s arsenal of technology — which is used in so many different ways — that it’s hard not to be impressed.
If you’re keen to visit the Shophouse, here are the main features to look out for.
Singapore Time Walk
Making use of the technology behind Google Maps, the Singapore Time Walk app will allow you to explore Singapore’s popular landmarks and experience them through the course of Singapore’s history. By holding up your phones and aligning the landmarks on your screen with actual landmarks using your smartphone camera, users of the app will be able to experience an augmented reality where you can pull out more information about the landmark itself, or see the landmark being built through the last five decades of Singapore’s history.
According to Google, the app is their birthday gift to Singapore, and will be developed to include the Jubilee Walk later this year. The app itself can be downloaded from Google Play starting this weekend, but visitors of the shophouse will be able to test drive the app via demo devices available on site.
Cultural Institute Initiatives
Google has branched out their Cultural Institute initiatives — which helps users explore the world’s museums — to include a special collection of paintings, photos, videos, and other cultural objects. The exhibit is made accessible in the Shophouse with on-site demo devices, and uses Google street view to allow users to look at existing landmarks and monuments. It also taps into Google Images and YouTube to offer a multimedia experience to those eager to learn about Singapore’s future.
New 360-degree panoramic views
Google is well known for their 360-degree Street View in Google Maps, so it makes sense for the company to decide to add brand new Street View locations from Singapore to Google Maps for the first time. These street views are unique: instead of using a vehicle to capture images, Google enlisted the help of actual people who travelled on foot to document places in Singapore that vehicles can’t explore. This includes footpaths in Pulau Ubin, the treetop walk at Macritchie reservoir, and the Henderson Wave bridge, amongst many others.
The technology behind Street View, such as the Google Trekker and Trolley, will be displayed at the Shophouse.
Doodle 4 Google Gallery
Google doodles from previous years’ National Days and all other Singapore-centric Google doodles will be put on display at the Shophouse.
The star of this exhibit is this year’s SG50 Doodle 4 Google winner, 8-year-old Moh Journ, Hadyn, of Beacon Primary School. His doodle will be put on display on Google Singapore’s homepage on August 9.
Other than the shophouse, Google will also be organising coding camps for students in Singapore. Working in collaboration with local educational organizations 21C Girls and Saturday Kids, the camps will be held at Google’s office over the next year.
So if you’re starting to consider your options for the upcoming SG50 long weekend, make the Google Shophouse part of your plans.
The Google Shophouse is located at 63 Spottiswoode Park Road, and will be open over the weekend leading up to National Day (August 1-2) and the National Day weekend (August 7-10).