Google’s parent company, Alphabet, took on the ambitious project to provide free internet access through the use of floating balloons.
The effort is labelled as Project Loon.
The Project Loon balloons are roughly the size of a tennis court, and each balloon is tasked with carrying a small box of equipment. On the surface, any user falling into the balloon’s coverage area will be easily able to connect to the internet. The connectivity has covered an area of 40,000 square kilometers.
The great thing about the project is that when Peru was hit with several massive flooding incidents, the affected individuals were still able to get online with the use of Google’s floating internet balloons.
Over the course of three months, users have sent and received over 160GB worth of data.
Project Loon recently announced that the balloons are now able to ‘think for themselves.’ The Project Loon balloons are smart enough to navigate using weather-streams. Depending on environmental input, the balloons can steer themselves, and raise themselves higher or lower, depending on existing weather patterns.
The technology has been well-received. Project Loon can certainly be put to use during times of dire need, as proven in Peru. Whenever a remote region is affected with a crisis, these balloons can be deployed to enable communication between those affected and rescue teams.
The technology also has its fair share of critics. The balloons are quickly being deployed over developing areas of the world. Critics are worried that the sudden influx of users, most of whom will welcome the idea of a free internet, will be subject to privacy violations. Their personal information can be sold by the companies for personal gain and to enable product advertising.
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