Google's Project Loon to float global internet in high-atmospheric balloons sounded far-fetched, but the floating web platform is already circling the globe an update from the team reveals. Tests of Loon balloon Ibis-167 saw it do a loop of Earth in 22 days, with a new design that includes twice the number of solar panels.
Google borrowed flocking patterns from birds for early design of its ambitious Project Loon, rolling out blanket coverage simulations to prove to naysayers that delivering wireless internet access from the stratosphere is practical. While some have questioned how the project expects to be able to consistently provide service when the mesh-networking balloons responsible are moving at speed through the changeable atmospheric winds, Project Loon pointed to research done by one of the search giant's Rapid Evaluators that proves it can be achieved.
Google is hunting volunteers to test early Project Loon balloon-broadcast internet services, proposing mounting bulbous Loon antennas on participants' roofs. Limited to those in California's Central Valley, the research scheme would see the antennas stress-testing Project Loon's potential bandwidth as the high-altitude balloons pass overhead.
Some of the technical details behind Google's Project Loon were revealed in a recent video explaining the inner workings of one of its global Internet antenna balloons. Network engineering lead Cyrus Behroozi popped off the top half of one of the bulbous shells to point out the various parts of its two main components: a radio and the antenna itself. The design, Behrozi said, was intentionally simple, but it could become more sophisticated over time as the prototypes continue in their development.
On May 24, we reported on a tip that Google plans to launch wireless Internet service in emerging markets that have little or no access to the Internet. While the leaked details were extensive, one bit stuck out among the rest: the use of balloons to transmit signals over long distances. At least that aspect of the rumor has turned out to be true, with Google announcing the method as Project Loon.
Google is adding a drone specialist to its roster of recent acquisitions, with startup Titan Aerospace set to bring its Solara solar-powered unmanned planes to the search giant's airstrip. Billed as "high altitude persistent solar-electric UAVs," the Titan Aerospace drones will theoretically fly for up to five years without needing to land, cruising more than 12 miles up and flying at speeds of up to 65mph.
Google has acquired drone maker Titan Aerospace, the autonomous solar-powered flying vehicle company believed to be next in Facebook's sights, in a move it says will help Project Loon in bringing internet to developing markets. The deal sees Google snatch Titan Aerospace out from under Facebook's nose, after the social network had said earlier in the year that it was in talks around a potential acquisition.
I don't have a crystal ball, so it's hard for me to see into the future like some. But the writing appears to be on the wall in the technology industry: Google, the company that made a name for itself in search, will go on to become the most influential and important company in the world within the next decade. Moreover, the company's efforts will turn us all into citizens of a world we'll call Google.
A CNET reporter recently tracked down the meaning and nature of a barge moored to Treasure Island, a former Navy base in San Francisco Bay. The barge, which has been built up with shipping containers to resemble a floating, mostly windowless, four-story building, largely matches a Google patent for a floating data center filed in 2009. The investigative report corroborates widespread suspicions the secretive project realizes that patent.
Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, and others have joined forces to deliver low-cost web access to developing nations, revealing the newly-founded Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) as a way to make getting online cheaper. Started by the World Wide Web Foundation, A4AI has taken as its first target the UN Broadband Commission's goal of "entry-level broadband access priced at less than 5% of monthly income worldwide" Google's Jennifer Haroon, Access Principal, wrote today; that's no small challenge, however, given estimates suggesting internet users in developing markets pay on average 30-percent of their monthly income for a fixed connection.