The white van emblazoned with Google's colorful logo and an invitation to 'shape the future' of the world's most powerful Internet company is scheduled to pull out Monday on a six-week road trip.
Google is using the van to help it break out of its Silicon Valley bubble. The van will make multiday stops in seven states, stopping near colleges, libraries, parks and some of Google's own regional offices in hopes of finding out how average Americans are using the company's multitude of
digital offerings.
About 500 walk-up volunteers will be invited to step inside the van designed to serve as a mini-version of Google's Silicon Valley laboratories, where most of the company's user studies are conducted.
Once inside, researchers will watch, question and record how the volunteers use apps and other services on their smartphones in sessions that will last 15 to 90 minutes. They will receive gift cards and Google t-shirts in return for their time.
A few may even get a glimpse at ideas that Google's engineers are still refining before the company decides whether to release them as products to the general public.
The plan to build a research lab on wheels grew out of Google's recognition that most people don't live and think the same way as the population living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the company does most of its user research.