Google Loon: Bringing the Internet Everywhere With Sun, Wind, and Balloons


Loon (noun):

1) informal - a crazy or simple minded person.

2) dialect – (Northeast Scot) a lad.

3) tech - Google’s newest project, straight out of its secretive Project-X laboratory and incredibly cool.

Google shoots for the moon again, and comes awfully close, again. Project Loon is an innovative effort to bring broadband internet to under-served parts of the world through a series of floating balloons and low-level satellites. Google ran its first test on Saturday in New Zealand and apparently gave people 15 minutes of internet access before the balloons floated away. A minor hiccup for a company that seems to think it can do anything, and tries.

Google says that winds in our stratosphere are slow and make Loon a feasible venture. The solar-powered balloons will move the communications equipment between layers of slow moving winds, but there are some variables and much of the technical details are still up in the air (pun intended). Google Loon, along with Google Fiber and Google Chromebook, the company's web-browser-based laptop effort, is part of its push to control more of the hardware infrastructure on which its many online services rely. It hopes to bring more people onto the internet, with faster access and to stay online longer.

Google admits that Loon, which promises “internet for all,” is currently highly experimental. Check the very pleasant-sounding nature of the technology being developed:

“Winds in the stratosphere are generally steady and slow-moving at between 5 and 20 mph, and each layer of wind varies in direction and magnitude. Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network.”

It sounds like tech that even the Amish could roll with!

Check Google’s nice promo video for Project Loon: