Balloon Powered Internet Access
Have you ever needed to check your email or Facebook while camping, hiking, or any other area where there was no chance you were going to get access to the internet? Google aims to fix this. The same lab that is working on the Google glasses and the Google car are also working on a very different project. They want to provide WiFi globally with the use of balloons.
In most areas of this country, it isn’t too difficult to find a WiFi connection. In other countries it can be a different story. Internet access can cost more than a workers monthly income. Imagine holding a second job just so you can shop amazon. In other places, there is absolutely no availability to get on the web. Google claims that for every one person that can use the internet, there are two that can not. Project Loon intends to provide an inexpensive way to grant access to these places, as well as every other place on the planet. Imagine what internet lacking areas can achieve with just this simple connection. Children can get an education where they couldn’t before. Farmers can achieve greater harvest with better access to weather data . You could even stay connected to your professional life while on a camping trip with your family in the mountains.
The main idea is to send these balloons into the stratosphere where Google can steer and control them with the use of wind current and solar energy. The balloons will sail around 20 km in the sky (commercial airplanes fly around 10 km). The stratosphere’s wind normally flows from west to east, however there is ability to use different wind directions to provide some level of control. This allows the Google team to steer only by lifting and dropping a balloon in the different levels of the stratosphere. Keeping the balloon stationary would cost far more than sending many balloons operating in unison over a network, so Google will send multiple to circle the planet in a ring formation. When one balloon leaves an area, another is meant to take its place providing access everywhere constantly and inexpensively.
The technology is still in its very early stages and much work is left to be done before this becomes a reality. At its current state, the speeds are estimated to be similar to our current 3G speeds. While it isn’t perfect, it will provide a solution to a complex problem that we face in this technological era. If we can provide constant communication to everyone on the planet, imagine what else could be achieved by looking for answers in places we never have before.
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