Meet Project Loon, Google’s newly announced plan to use large balloons to bring wireless internet access across the globe.
The ambitious plan comes in the latest of Google’s on-going foray into bringing low cost or free internet access to those who might otherwise lack it. However, it is the first major attempt at creating a nearly unified network to the whole world.
Some eyebrows, though, have been raised as Google declares balloons to be at the core of their plans.
Strange as it may sound, there’s an “it’s so crazy it might just work” factor here; “Loon” as the project’s name was a good choice.
In the announcement video included below Google explains the basics of the idea: Put powerful wifi transmitters in weather balloon-like devices that will float in the sky, blanketing the world with free internet.
Google hopes Project Loon will make access to education, medical resources, and emergency communication a realistic possibility for everyone on the globe, closing internet gaps and bringing it to some places for the first time.
Google estimates that nearly two thirds of the world lacks access to fast, reliable internet.
The project’s first test begins this June, where thirty balloons will be launched from New Zealand’s South Island and travel along the 40th Parallel to circle the globe.
The balloons will use ISM bands and provide speeds similar to 3G in an area of about 40 km per balloon. Google’s design is intended to make the balloons hardier and longer lasting than normal weather balloons. Solar panels will power the unit’s transmitters.
Project Loon may seem like a mad plan, but Google is confident this could be a revolutionary way of distributing information access across the globe.
Are you looking forward to being able to update your Facebook status on top of a mountain? Will Project Loon make mobile data plans merely a relic of the past?
[Image via Project Loon]