What the Tech?! Project Loon

Loons — Google Project Loon

Project Loonn;

An endeavor from Google to deliver Internet for the world through connected balloons. Project Loon, which began about four years ago and has been tested over New Zealand and California among other spots, wants to place “floating cell towers in the sky,” and provide connectivity to parts of the world that are living without.

The high-altitude balloons are made of polyethylene plastic and float above earth in the stratosphere — far enough to avoid contact with airplanes and birds, but close enough to pick up on cellular spectrums. They travel through wind patterns, directed by algorithms to areas in vital need of connectivity. Signals are passed through the balloons and “beamed” down to dark parts of the earth, like much of Africa. Google announced that its latest round of tests showed a balloon staying afloat, going around the world, and transmitting communications for up to 6 months. They are now working with carriers around the world to enable connectivity everywhere.

While a variety of free-Internet ventures have popped up (Facebook’s Internet.org and companies like FreedomPop), their impact hasn’t yet been shown. Privacy and blocking of content are also concerns, as the politics of different nations allow and disallow different things. Starting with giant tech companies (like Google an Facebook) that aren’t necessarily known for their privacy standards also makes some wary.

There’s no official launch date for the Loon project, but the creating team seems confident in it’s progress.