Being able to access the internet flawlessly is the need that surpasses everything as of now. There were many eyebrows raised when Google announced the project sometime in 2013. The concept appeared to be impractical. But, two years down the lane – there has been quite a progress in the technology.
Yes, we are talking about Project Loon – a concept that envisages usage of balloons at high altitude to make internet connectivity possible across the inaccessible areas.
What is Project Loon?
The concept is simple. The project Loon looks forward to providing internet access to all those locations that can not be connected through the regular means of providing the internet connectivity.
When the project was first announced, people looked at it with suspicion. The concept involves having a network of balloons at the height around 18 kilometers over the earth’s surface. This network of balloons works as a medium for the transmission of signals from the source to the www and then back from www to the user.
You can visualize a network of balloons – thousand’s of them in the stratosphere, around 18 to 20 kilometer above the earth. These will be used to bring the internet to a majority of the people who have no access to internet connectivity. The idea though appears crazy to be true, is, however, plausible.
How does the concept work?
Well, these balloons are something you have seen at the birthday parties or marriage ceremonies. These are some specially made balloons manufactured specifically for the purpose. They are slightly thicker than the polyethene bags you carry while on shopping but quite massive in size. They can be around 15 meters wider.
These balloons are filled with helium gas. The purpose of using a light gas like helium is to make them stay at high altitudes for long. Wondering how a polyethene bag can communicate radio or electromagnetic waves? No., these balloons won’t communicate the signals, but will only work as a medium for the technical paraphernalia to be placed at the high altitudes.
Each of the balloons will carry along with it a microcomputer that is powered by Linux. Each of these microdevices will be equipped with WiFi Radios, Sensors, and all the technical gadgets. The sensors and other equipment kept at the height of around 18 to 20 kilometers with the help of the balloons will communicate with the Google Command Center on the ground to maneuver the balloons and control its movement and direction.
Once the system is set in place, signals can be transmitted from the balloons to a specialized antenna that is fitted at the consumer premises. This specialized antenna naturally works on radio frequency. The internet antenna can be connected to a consumer router. The signals traveling through this network of balloons is connected to ground stations which in turn are connected the existing internet connectivity. As soon as this connection between balloons, ISP and antenna are completed, the internet connectivity is established!
SEE ALSO:Google Project Soli
A few issues that can cause problems
Well, the concept is quite plausible. But, is it feasible? There are certain questions that may need to be answered.
Will the balloons be able to withstand the high wind speeds at the high altitude of 20 kilometers? Wind speeds are much heavier at those heights, won’t such speeds blow away the balloons? Google says its balloons can be steered from the ground station. The contention of Google when it comes to steering it for better has another scientific fact that backs it.
Though the wind speeds are higher as indicated above, they tend to be in a specific direction. Google plans to use the solar powered pumps that can be used to deflate or inflate the balloons remotely. Such an approach can be used to make the balloon rise or fall to the required height or the direction.
Another issue being faced is the crashing of balloons that has been observed quite frequently. Around six to seven cases of balloons, crashing has been recorded so far in the history of the project Loon.
What does the future hold?
Well, the plans are still intact to provide high-speed internet to the majority of the world where the traditional means do not reach. The project was officially launched in 2013. Early experimentations began in New Zealand in 2013 with the launch of about 30 balloons.
There are trial runs going on in Australia, Canada, and other countries. Vatican city has been one of the earliest nations that have been successfully connected fully. Sri Lanka has recently signed an agreement with Google to undertake the project on a mass scale.
India has plans of testing the technology. There have been recent talks between the Union Government and Google. The pilot project is likely to begin soon. The location for the project would be either in Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh.
Google has been working to make it cover – at least the southern hemisphere –by the end of 2016. Though it appeared to be a distant dream just a couple of years ago, it has become a reality, albeit in certain parts of the world. We would not be surprised to see the network of balloons powering the whole of internet quite soon.
SEE ALSO:Google Fuchsia
Well, that was what we had to share about the somewhat “alien technology” of providing internet connectivity to the world at large. We are indeed impressed with the speed with which the project has taken shape and has become a reality in some parts of the world. The goal of having an uninterrupted internet connectivity may not be too far. Hopefully, we would be reading something like this on a device that is powered by Project Loon.
Feel free to share your views and opinions on the Project loon and its implications. What do you expect it take shape as and how will it benefit the society at large? We would love to get a feedback from our readers.