Google balloon internet project unveiled

Google has unveiled “Project Loon,” a brilliant but ambitious idea to have everyone in the world, specially those in remote areas, connected online...using balloons.

The helium-filled giant balloon carries a platform which receives internet signal and beams it back to Earth.

The technology is still on the test phase. If successful, it could allow underdeveloped countries to advance via online connectivity without the need to lay costly fiber cable lines or propagate internet signal wirelessly through cellsites.

With Google’s internet-beaming balloon, people in far-flung villages can get broadband access to be able to gather useful information that can improve their socio-economic lives.

The technology can also be utilized in times of crisis. If for example a calamity or disaster strikes, causing massive damage to power and communication facilities, a balloon flown over the affected area will provide internet service, paving the way for quicker response from people outside, as well as government assistance.

Engineers from Google X lab, the team behind the wearable computer Google Glass and the driverless Google car, created the internet-beaming balloon.

In terms of safety, Project Loon founder Richard DeVaul said the balloons “wouldn’t interfere with aircraft” because they “fly below satellites” and “twice as high as airplanes,” reports the Associated Press. They also don’t carry cameras, downplaying concerns on surveillance.

The report said each balloon would provide internet service for an area “twice the size of New York City.” That’s about 1,250 square kilometers or 780 square miles, with or without terrains.

In order to receive signal, users will need to plug a receiver about the size of a basketball into the computer. No pricing has been revealed yet, but Google is reportedly “striving to make both the balloons and receivers as inexpensive as possible.”