Google's Calder doodle sways with laptop tilt

The latest dynamic doodle commemorates the appreciation sculptor Alexander Calder had for gravity--and helps Google show off the latest in Web programming.

This Google doodle commemorating sculptor Alexander Calder is a mobile that sways when a person tilts an accelerometer-equipped laptop used to view it.
This Google doodle commemorating sculptor Alexander Calder is a mobile that sways when a person tilts an accelerometer-equipped laptop while viewing it. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google published a doodle today that commemorates artist Alexander Calder with an interactive sculpture that sways when a person tilts an accelerometer-equipped laptop.

Calder is famous for sculptures he called mobiles--hanging weights and struts that are carefully counterbalanced so they slowly drift into new configurations. The doodle, published on Calder's 113th birthday, tilts when a laptop tilts and slowly spins if a person clicks and drags on the sculpture.

The swaying feature requires not just an accelerometer-equipped laptop but also a browser that can expose that information to a Web application. In my tests on a Mac this morning, that meant Chrome but not Safari or Firefox.

Google's doodles began as whimsical drawings that provided a bit of variation on the company's primary-color logo. They've steadily increased in prominence and sophistication, with an annual contest for students to draw their own and with ever-more dynamic doodles.

Examples include a playable Pac-Man game , a musical tribute to guitarist Les Paul , and leaping dancers .

The company has a dedicated team of artists to create the doodles. They get to recognize famous moments and people--and help Google with its mission of evangelizing the world of Web programming and the abilities of its own browser.

Marissa Mayer, a Google executive with a penchant for art, touted the latest doodle on Twitter and on Google+.

"The amazing Alexander Calder logo is up! It's a simulation of an actual working mobile--also, note the shadow below the search box and buttons," Mayer said. "Click and drag to put the mobile in motion. Also, if you pick up your laptop and rock it from side to side, the mobile swings and moves (cool use of the accelerometer in most laptops)."

 

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