Up front it sounds like a project to make a world class health clinics for mental patients but Google’s Project Loon aims to do something mental rather than contain the craziness. It is strictly a research and development project that aims to provide 3G speed internet to remote and rural areas around the world.
The idea is that giant helium balloons will circle the globe about twenty kilometers above the surface carrying transmitters that bounce signals from balloon to balloon finally connecting with a base station to establish a flying wireless network with theoretically uninterrupted connectivity. The balloons are navigated by software algorithms that measure wind direction and velocity and the position of the other balloons to establish where on balloon needs to be for there to be a uniform connection.
The balloons sport light solar panels the size of card tables that can charge the transmitter for a day after charging for four hours. The balloons are made of polyethylene and are super-pressure category balloons, meaning that their volume remains relatively constant with temperature changes. The project aims to provide Internet to countries where there is none and where it would be too expensive to lay down a fiber optic network.
It has already undergone a trial run in New Zealand on 14th June 2013 where 30 balloons were released and a network was officially established. Google aims to expand this project in the coming months and by 2014, establish a continuous operational network around the 40th southern parallel. The project is so loony that Google itself decided to call it Project Loon. But that’s what innovation is, isn’t it? It’s crazy.