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Google's Project Loon: The Gamble That's So Crazy It Might Work

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A balloon over a remote area in New Zealand.

Google's Project Loon can provide Wi-Fi connectivity to remote locations vie high-altitude balloons.

Credit: Google/Reuters

Google recently launched Project Loon, which provides Wi-Fi connectivity to remote locations using high-altitude balloons, wind currents, and solar power. The balloons were released from a remote location in New Zealand, and will travel in the stratosphere at 25 mph along the 40th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere.

Project Loon is a "moon shot" project from research and development lab Google X that aims to result in massive, disruptive change. The balloons create an aerial Wi-Fi network that could bring Internet connectivity to hard-to-reach locations such as earthquake zones or war zones. Google's technology could be globally available by 2020.

Teams of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are applying a range of engineering and computing disciplines to make Project Loon work.

The effort is drawing the attention of other researchers and scientists who would like to use the balloons' data for other projects. Climate scientists, for example, have asked to use Project Loon data to study the earth's stratosphere for clues about global climate change.

In addition, other scientists are contemplating new forms of balloon-powered transportation to the stratosphere.

From The Washington Post
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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