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Google’s ‘Project Loon’ Launched, Balloon-Powered Internet for Everyone

Posted: June 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Favorite New Thought, Google, Standout, Technoid Computer News | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Google’s ‘Project Loon’ Launched, Balloon-Powered Internet for Everyone


Internet behemoth Google believes that it might actually be able to build a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, that provides Internet access to the earth below. The search-giant has launched the first set of balloons in it’s ambitious plan ::::


The experiment, codenamed Project Loon, was trialled in earthquake damaged Christchurch, on New Zealand’s South Island.  Google say it’s very early days, they hope balloons could become a serious option for connecting rural, remote, and under-served areas. The company says the infrastructure might also be utilised in helping with communications after natural disasters. The idea may sound a bit crazy –  that’s the reason they’ve called it Project Loon – but there’s solid science behind it.

In the initial launch, scientists floated 30 helium-filled balloons around 20 kilometres into the stratosphere, carrying antennae linked to ground base stations. Wi-fi signals were beamed from another part of New Zealand to the 15-metre-diameter balloons, and then to the homes of about 50 trial participants.

“This week we started a pilot program in the Canterbury area of New Zealand with 50 testers trying to connect to our balloons.” project lead, Mike Cassidy said via a blogpost. “This is the first time we’ve launched this many balloons , 30 this week,  and tried to connect to this many receivers on the ground, and we’re going to learn a lot that will help us improve our technology and balloon design.”

Google says the participants were then able to successfully link to the internet. In the future, the company wants to set up pilots in countries at the same latitude as New Zealand. Interested? they’re also looking for partners to take part in the next phase of the project.

While still in the early stages, Project Loon’s Richard DeVaul says the technology could increase internet access to countries such as Africa, and in South-East Asia.

“About 4.8 billion people don’t have the internet right now,” Mr DeVaul said. “Some of them are living in remote places, but some of them are actually living right here in New Zealand, and we think that Project Loon can play a big role in connecting many of those unconnected people.”

Project Loon works by ground stations connecting to the local internet infrastructure and beaming signals to the balloons, which are self-powered by solar panels.

The balloons, which once in the stratosphere will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye, are then able to communicate with each other, forming a mesh network in the sky. Users below have internet antennae they attach the side of their house which can send and receive data signals from the balloons passing overhead.

Google’s ultimate goal is to have a ring of balloons circling the Earth, ensuring there is no part of the globe that cannot access the internet. The company hasn’t put a price on the project.



Sounds Loony?

  • Ground stations connect to the local internet infrastructure.
  • Beaming signals to the balloons, which are self-powered by solar panels.
  • Balloons then communicate with each other.
  • Forming a mesh network in the sky.
  • Users below have internet antennae..

Loon antennae can send and receive data signals from the balloons passing stratospherically overhead.

“Balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, can beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster.”

“It is very early days, but we think a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, might be a way to provide affordable Internet access to rural, remote, and under-served areas down on earth below, or help after disasters, when existing communication infrastructure is affected.” Google said via it’s blog. “The idea we’ve pursued is based on freeing balloons, letting them sail freely on the winds.”

All they had to do was work out how to control the balloons path through the sky. ” We’ve now found a way to do that, using just wind and solar power,” Mr cassidy said. “We can move the balloons up or down to catch the winds we want them to travel in.

However, this clever solution led to a new problem, “…how to manage a fleet of balloons sailing around the world so that each balloon is in the area you want it right when you need it.” Mr Cassidy said. “We’re solving this with some complex algorithms and lots of computing power.”

Project Loon was kicked off in 2011 by scientists at the Google X research lab, which has previously produced a driverless car and the Google Glass augmented reality specs. The superclever design lab plans to trial the internet balloons, which can stay in the air for up to 100 days, in Australia sometime 2014.

The Southern Hemisphere, specifically the 40th parallel south, has been chosen for the trial partly because of the stratospheric conditions, with the balloons movements controlled from the ground by harnessing winds and solar power. The only part of Australia on the 40th parallel is north Tasmania, so that appears the likely destination for the Australian trial.



source: youtube
source: blogspot
source: afp
source: aap
source: google

image source: jon shenk aap

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