Leave it to Google to do something daring and unusual. Known inside the search giant’s offices as its ‘moonshot project,’ Project Loon is a giant collection of balloons that sails into the stratosphere similar to a low level satellite. The idea is to provide Internet broadband service to developing parts of the globe. This is an ambition that Google has been working on through the White Spaces project.
Google, which made some big SEO announcements last week, ran a test on Project Loon in New Zealand on Saturday. It gave people down below about 15 minutes of broadband access before the balloons floated away out of range.
Loon is more what Google says that it is about in 2013 and in the near future. While Google Glass and Driverless Cars are getting headlines, the fact is that those projects are not adding to Google’s profits right now. They get a lot of press and they do help with the stock price. But we need to remember that Google makes money by selling ads, and cars and Glass don’t add to revenue, or not yet.
But what DOES bring more money to Google is getting more people online so they can click ads. So, really, even though Loon does sound ‘out there,’ it’s more at the core of Google’s future business than many of the other Google projects you hear about.
On the technical side, Google notes that stratosphere winds are slow, so Loon is actually pretty feasible. Balloons in the project use solar power to move the equipment between the layers of the winds up there. The company states that the winds in the stratosphere move between five and twenty miles per hour. Loon utilizes software algorithms to figure out where the balloons need to go, and then it moves each balloon cluster into a wind layer that is blowing in the correct direction.
It will be a few years before we will see how successful Loon will be, but isn’t it interesting to see how far Google is willing to go to grow its core ad-selling business?