I don’t know about you guys, but I thought the Usability Lab was pretty cool and VERY applicable to our project overall. According to their handout that they gave us, the Usability Lab’s goal is “to make systems more effective and usable.” This is exactly what we need for Google Maps. The testing room we saw could be used to test the ease of use of Google Maps for users of all ages, academic levels, etc. Since we don’t have a set goal in mind (as far as I know) for where our project is headed, this data could provide very very useful in figuring out where Google Maps needs work and where we need to put our efforts.
As far as challenges this would bring to our project, the only downside I could fathom is the cost. Services like this obviously cost alot and only major companies should bother utilizing them. In a dream world though, getting help from the User Experience Group would be ideal.