The Project Loon Project From Google


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Have you seen this yet?  Google is wanting everyone around the world to have access to the internet.  According to Google, for 2 out of every 3 people on Earth, “a fast, affordable Internet connection is still out of reach.”  Project Loon is an early, inspiring attempt to deliver reliable connectivity to those areas where it does not exist or is prohibitively expensive – the Southern Hempishere, in particular.

Project Loon launch screencap Google videoThe balloons are made of polyethylene plastic.  They are approximately 15 meters in diameter and the entire apparatus is about 12 meters tall.  Each balloon is powered via solar panels.  The balloons will float along the winds in the stratosphere, approximately 20km above the surface.  At such a distance, they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Each balloon is equipped with transceivers to communicate with nearby balloons and with a regional ground station and the specialized antenna Google developed to receive the signal.

So how will this technology work?  Each balloon is networked to one another with a radio transceiver as in a mesh, designed to ensure signal reliability.  A second transceiver keeps the balloon in contact with a network station on the ground and beams an Internet signal to specialized antennas that can be placed on homes, much like a very small satellite TV receiver.  There is also a back-up transceiver and a GPS on each balloon, so Google can monitor a balloon’s location. And each balloon will carry weather instruments, too.

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You have to be thinking about how will these balloons will not float away into space.  Google claims to have figured out how to control the balloons by moving them up or down into the desired band of wind in the stratosphere, though it didn’t specify how.  The stratospheric winds and temperatures should presumably not present a hazard problem for the balloons or equipment.  Google claims that this project is not a publicly stunt and they invision hundreds of these balloons floating around above us sending out internet signals to people on the ground.

I believe this is an exciting time for a geek / nerd like me as I believe everyone around the world should have access to the internet!  To learn more about Project Loon go to: http://www.google.com/loon/  Enjoy the video from them!

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