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Google's audacious Project Loon wants to spread the Net with high-flying balloons

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane it's... a 3G-spewing Google balloon?!

You know what's awesome? The Internet. What's not so great: The utter pain it is to find a fast, reliable Internet connection in so many parts of the world. With its latest moonshot, Google[x] is fighting that headache with creativity, attempting to make an awesome thing, well, even more awesome by spreading the Internet to the furthest reaches of the earth.

The delivery method? High-flying, Internet-spewing balloons.

Yes, you read that right.

It's called Project Loon and the name couldn't be more apt on all kinds of levels. Even after hearing Google's pretty convincing pitch, it still sounds crazy--but the right kind of crazy.

In a nutshell, Google wants to send legions of balloons up to 60,000 feet--twice the altitude of commercial airplanes--where they'll be free to harness the natural energies of the wind and the sun to create a world-wide web of connectivity. Google's massive computing power, mixed with government wind direction data, will theoretically help navigate the balloons around the globe, delivering 3G (or better!) speeds to the masses no matter where the masses are. That's assuming everything goes to plan, of course.

Like I said, nuts. Completely bonkers. But this Google-made video proves that the big brains in Mountain View have thought hard about this particular problem:

Google warns that the project is still in its early stages, but this week, Project Loon is undergoing its biggest test yet, with 50 people trying to connect to 30 Google balloons that are sailing the skies over Canterbury, New Zealand. Hints of Project Loon first surfaced at the Wall Street Journal in May, and while the idea seemed far-fetched at the time, in retrospect, this is coming from the forward-thinking Google division responsible for both Glass and self-driving cars.

Want to see the high-flying, potentially world-changing chicanery in action? The Project Loon's Google+ page packs plenty of behind-the-scenes photos of the endeavor. Residents of the southern hemisphere may just get an up-close view of the balloons before long: Google is hoping to bring Project Loon to other countries on the same latitude as New Zealand.


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