Google, a name very few people aren’t familiar with, has been the leader in global technology for over a decade. They recently brought you Google Glass that took the world by storm, and have done it again by introducing Project Loon.
What is Project Loon?
Many people believe the Internet to be a global community, when in fact 2/3 of the world’s population do not have access to the Internet.
Project Loon was launched to change this, by means of a network of balloons traveling on the edge of the earths atmosphere. It has been designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, to help fill coverage gaps and even bring people back online after being hit by disasters.
Balloons connecting people? How?
Each balloon has been networked to one another with a radio transceiver almost like mesh. It was designed this way to ensure signal reliability. A second transceiver was put in place to keep the balloon in contact with a network station back on the ground. This station beams an Internet signal to specialized antenna, which can be easily placed on homes – much the same as a small satellite TV receiver.
To take things a step further, Google also added back-up transceivers and a GPS on each balloon, so that they are able to monitor a balloon’s location. They even fitted each balloon with weather instruments.
- Won’t the balloons simply float away? – No, the balloons are steerable by computer algorithms meant to keep them headed in the right direction. The balloons will circle the earth 20 kms above the earth’s surface, where the winds are considerably reduced – offering less resistance.
- Why not just stick to satellites? – Satellites may have revolutionized communications, but aren’t without their limitations. There simply is not enough satellite spectrum to go around for the entire world to receive high-speed Internet.
- Doesn’t the American military use the same technology? – No, the military makes use of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, but those systems are highly expensive. It also requires a lot of on-ground infrastructure and cannot stay in the air for long periods of time (a few days at most).
Whether this new venture is more “loony” than probable, is yet to be confirmed. We predict a giant step for the future of coverage, however only time will tell. For the moment the concept is sound and Google seems to have high hopes for the project.
Snowball – Connecting Everything.