How Google Will Use High-Flying Balloons to Deliver Internet to the Hinterlands

Google has launched Project Loon, an innovation that is said to, if it works, set hundreds, even thousands of high pressure balloons circling the earth to provide Internet to the world’s 5 billion unconnected souls.

This is said to give the population an enriched life with vital news, educational materials, lifesaving health information and fantastic global visuals on the world-wide-web.

As Google holds a press conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, they will also stage Project Loon’s biggest trial yet – 50 testers in Christchurch within the 12 mile range of the balloons will see if they can get connected from the sky.

Project Loon began 2 years ago, with the goal being to provide reliable Internet access using balloons. This idea was said to be crazy at first, with a number of obvious problems, many of them involving the limitations of ballooning itself.

googleballoonThe idea of “variable buoyancy” had come to pass by Rich DeVaul, an expert in wearable technology, with altitude allowed to be tweaked to find wind currents travelling in the right direction. This would accurately simulate wind currents in the stratosphere.

Finally, the project was pitched. DeVaul began a series of trial runs in California, and setup of a team of experts in energy, technology and engineering to name a few. With the help of Raven Aerostar, the company that makes weather balloons for NASA, Project Loon started to take shape.

When the balloon is launched, it is not fully inflated. As it rises, the air pressure difference expands the balloon at its float altitude is around 20km, twice the altitude of commercial airlines. At this height, the balloon will soar over the weather.

“Two years ago, this idea was just scribbles on a whiteboard,” DeVaul says. “The next part is seeing how the world reacts to this.”

Project Loon still has plenty hurdles to overcome. But for now, DeVaul is out of reasons to kill his project.

 

Image Reference:

Wired, Business Article, viewed 14 June 2013, <http://www.wired.com/business/2013/06/google_internet_balloons/all/>

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Yachna Singh
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