Internet searching giantÂ GoogleÂ has launched huge balloons to bring the Internet to remote areas and difficult terrain â€” mountain ranges, archipelagos and jungles.
TheÂ jellyfish-shaped balloonsÂ were launched in to the stratosphere from a frozen field in the very center of New Zealand’s South Island. They hardened into shiny pumpkins as they rose into the blue skies above Lake Tekapo.
As The Telegraph reports, it was the culmination of 18 months’ work on whatÂ GoogleÂ calls ‘Project Loon’.Â Last week, the company launched 30 Internet-carrying balloons in the Canterbury region of New Zealand, with plans to launch 20 more.
“Two-thirds of the world’s population or about 4.8 billion people don’t have the internet right now. And some of them are living in remote places, but some of them are actually living right here in New Zealand, and we think that Project Loon can play a big role in connecting many of those unconnected people,” explained Project Loon founder Richard DeVaul.
If the project proves successful, the technology is expected to allow countries to leapfrog the expense of laying fibre cable, dramatically increasing Internet usage in places such as Africa and Southeast Asia.
Project leader Mike Cassidy explained how people on the ground would receive the Internet.
“For someone on the ground to use the Loon service, they need a small antenna about the size of a softball on the side of their house, and they just plug their computer into that antenna, and they get internet from the sky,” Mr Cassidy said.
The balloons, which resemble white, effervescent jellyfish, use a combination of wind, solar power and “complex algorithms” to stay in a fixed part of the sky,Â says project leader Mike Cassidy.
The Internet-carrying balloons communicate with antennas wich are inbuilt on the ground tens of thousands of feet below to provide Internet access to remoted areas.
The launched constructions are similar to theÂ Internet-powered blimpsÂ the searching giant has been testing on a smaller scale in parts of Africa and Asia.
InitiativesÂ developed by Google and other parties have also considered using satellites and highly placed antennas to achieve the same goals. Google has been working on this particular project, dubbed “Project Loon,” for two years.
The launched balloons fly free and out of eyesight, receiving power from the installed solar panels that dangle below and gather enough charge in four hours to power them for a day as the balloons sail around the globe on the prevailing winds.
Far below, ground stations with internet capabilities about 60 miles apart bounce signals up to the balloons. The signals would hop forward, from one balloon to the next, along a backbone of up to five balloons.
Each balloon are expected to provide internet for an area twice the size of New York City, about 780 square miles, and terrain is not a challenge.
However, there’re some pbstacles on the way to success, including a requirement that anyone using Google Balloon internet would need a receiver plugged into their computer in order to receive the signal.
Google declines to unveil how much the project costs, although they’re striving to make both the balloons and receivers as inexpensive as possible, dramatically less than laying cables.