Skip to main content

    Google unveils 'Project Loon,' an experiment to bring balloon-powered internet to 'the entire world'

    Google unveils 'Project Loon,' an experiment to bring balloon-powered internet to 'the entire world'

    Share this story

    Google has unveil what it's calling its "latest moonshot" out of the Google X labs. It's called "Project Loon," and as reported last month, it involved sending up a huge number of giant balloons to beam down internet access to remote regions around the globe. Google says that balloons make sense for this purpose — they're cheap to deploy and can provide wireless coverage in areas that would otherwise be difficult to serve due to geography.

    Like Google's driverless cars, Project Loon is very much an experiment that's in "very early days." Google says that it has already built the system, however, carrying balloon at 60,000 feet, providing internet speeds "similar to today's 3G networks or faster." Balloons drift, of course, so Google says it's using "complex algorithms and lots of computing power" to ensure that the balloons can move where they're needed using a combination of wind and solar power — potentially floating around the entire globe at stratospheric heights. Google says that the balloons communicate with "specialized antennas," that only work with Project Loon — so it's not using traditional cellular or Wi-Fi tech. On the ground, internet providers can take the signal and move it to the last mile to users.

    At Wired, Steven Levy reports that the project started "a little under two years ago." Each balloon starts as an "envelope" that contains the polyethylene balloons and a 22-pound "payload" that contains all the computers and electronics.

    There's already a pilot program in New Zealand with 50 testers — Google launched 30 balloons just this week. Google hopes to set up more experiments "over time."

    Today’s Storystream

    Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

    E
    External Link
    Emma RothSep 24
    California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

    The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

    A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


    A
    Youtube
    Andrew WebsterSep 24
    Look at this Thing.

    At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


    A
    The Verge
    Andrew WebsterSep 24
    Get ready for some Netflix news.

    At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


    A
    Andrew WebsterSep 24
    Looking for something to do this weekend?

    Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


    A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
    Thermae Romae Novae.
    Image: Netflix
    J
    Twitter
    Jay PetersSep 23
    Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

    Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


    T
    Twitter
    Tom WarrenSep 23
    Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

    Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


    A
    External Link
    If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

    Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

    Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


    A
    External Link
    Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

    Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

    Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.