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Google X Labs Unveils ‘Project Loon’, A Balloon-Powered WiFi Network

The team at Google X Labs has unveiled “Project Loon,” a new platform that aims to use high-altitude balloons to create a 3G-speed internet connection for remote parts of the world.

The Project Loon network relies on the high-altitude balloons to create a connected network in rural areas where the cost of building an internet connection outweighs the advantages of such a network.

If Google X Labs is successful in creating the network, it would require balloons to fly twice the altitude of commercial aircraft. The balloons would then allow homes and businesses to pick up their signals and connect to the internet regardless of location.

The Project Loon balloons would travel around the world using solar power and stratospheric winds.

Google engineers are currently attempting to build out the algorithms that would be needed to tell the balloons how high to fly in order to drift in the right direction. Keeping the high-altitude internet balloons on the right path at all times would be needed to keep the network fully connected to ground based internet stations.

Google X Labs is known for shooting for the stars, which means this platform may never see the light of day. At this time, the Project Loon setup is still in “early testing,” although Google claims that technology already available could have allowed Project Loon to already go live.

Back in 2008, a report suggested that Google was already working with a balloon wireless firm to create a wide-area network.

Fifty people are beginning to test the Project Loon setup in New Zealand. The test program is using 30 Project Loon balloons that will all go live over the next week.

Here’s a second video that further explains how the Google X Labs project will work.

Do you think Google can make Project Loon a reality?

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