The purpose of The National Archives Labs is to give users a chance to try out some new tools and applications that are in development, and to get feedback about their good and bad points. The idea of "labs" is nothing new these days, many genealogists will no doubt be familiar with FamilySearch Labs.
The hope is that users will play around with these tools and leave some feedback about your experiences. There are currently three tools available in The National Archives Labs:
The Valuation Office Map Finder looks like it is going to be a very useful tool, removing the need to consult the master maps and try to pinpoint the relevant map (and find the correct catalogue reference) for the property you are searching for, not an easy process on a small scale map.
The Person Search for me doesn’t really provide much more functionality than the normal catalogue search, so I am not sure that it is really needed, but I will have to play with that one further before I leave any feedback.
The technology behind the UK history photo finder doesn’t seem to be that new, searching for photos using a map, but it is a new way of accessing the image collections of The National Archives, which might not be seen otherwise. Although you can view the images for free, I would like to see some information on how the images can be used.
So put on your white coat and safety goggles and pay a visit to the labs, and let them know what you think of their new tools.