Google's Wacky Project Loon
Soooo...Google has so much money they can afford some interesting wacky and interesting ideas. They can afford to waste a few millions here and there. Not everything they touch turns to gold, even The Beatles had their failures, as Steve Jobs would acknowledge. I think one failure is the Google eyeglasses, while it IS a great concept, in the realm of the real world it creates too much suspicion upon the person wearing it. As soon as a person is aware of them, they watch what they do and say fearing they are being recorded. In a meeting, the boss may think, "Is the person paying attention or on the Internet?" So as a precaution, the owner is asked to remove them.
Google had their mysterious barges floating in the SF bay area. Were they secret data centers? Garbage? But whatever the intent was, the real world prevented Google from continuing with the idea because too many regulations about barges and boats. So, Google simply walked away.
Now, Google has Project Loon. They are planning to launch 20 balloons per month to deliever the Internet access as they travel around the world. The first tests are being conducted in Australia via their largest carrier. The balloons in earlier versions had a short duration, now they can remain aloft for over three months. Test balloons have already traveled three million kilometers. These balloons can be steered by electronic means to their intended destination with such preciseness of being within 1.5 km of the target after flying 9000 km to get there. Not bad. Earlier versions of the Internet balloons took considerable time to inflate, this has been reduced to only fives minutes per balloon.
So, Google hopes that ISP companies will hire Google and its balloons to make the Internet in areas simply inaccessible or not cost effective to do so. I suppose the balloons would be under a license of some sort. This idea actually could work and it IS a great concept. One can imagine and ISP using the Internet balloon to locate to an area, say, mountainous areas, remote deserts, areas with little infrastructure in the Third World and so on. But there is one nagging issue about it that Google has not addressed- say, you steer a balloon some thousands of miles to its target. Just how does it remain aloft over the target without the natural forces (i.e., wind) from moving it? There is no tether or anchor to make it stationary. Also, security and signal issues are present. Will the balloons be used to spy on those in its area?
Project Loon holds great promise but the devil is in the details.