Google’s Project Loon connects 100k in Puerto Rico
Although many view the Internet as a global phenomenon, more than half of the world’s population are still without Internet access. Project Loon is an initiative by Google designed to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide, using a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space. The new technology can not only help fill coverage gaps but it can also help to bring people back online after disasters, as seen in Puerto Rico after cellphone towers were knocked out by Hurricane Maria.
“In times of crisis, being able to communicate with loved ones, emergency services and critical information is key,” – Alastair Westgarth, project lead at Project Loon
A Loon balloon on its way to Puerto Rico from Nevada
This is the second time Loon has been tested during a disaster relief effort with balloons sent to flood zones in Peru last year. The balloons have helped enable texts, emails and basic web access, however Alphabet, Google’s parent company, have stressed that Loon is still new and unpredictable despite the recent success.
How does Loon work?
Loon is a network of balloons travelling on the edge of space. The Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as air planes and the weather. In the stratosphere, there are many layers of wind, and each layer of wind varies in direction and speed, the balloons go where they’re needed by rising or descending into a layer of wind blowing in the desired direction of travel.
Google has partnered with various telecoms companies to share cellular spectrum to allow people to connect to the balloon network directly from their phones and other LTE-enabled devices. The signal is then passed across the balloon network and back down to the global Internet on Earth.
OK, you may have to be a bit of a Sci-Fi fan to know what the hell I am talking about in the title, for those unsure a clue, the 3rd installment is out this Summer of the film series in which this message is sent.
Anyway onto the true context of today’s blog – The Samsung Galaxy SIII.
We have them on pre-order, we are excited, it seems that now is the time to get your large touchscreen smartphone product into the market before apple announces iPhone 5.
The 3 that have caught my eye have been, the Sony Xperia S (the phoenix from the flames?) the HTC One X (boy that is a big screen) and the launch last week of the Samsung Galaxy SIII (William Tell aiming to shoot apple from people’s heads).
All 3 use the android operating system with the HTC and Samsung using the latest 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform and the Sony eligible very soon for upgrade to this level.
Now from this humble bloggers point of view it is always horses for courses and personal preference around this sort of device and there are some things to look out for, the Sony has a screen issue on certain handsets with a particular build date but the guys at Sony will help you sort this here http://www.sonymobile.com/gb/support/contact-us/, the HTC will not suit people with little hands because that screen is so darn big, and with the Samsung you will have to wait until the end of the month just like the rest of us and for the early adopters you will be paying iPhone money for a SIM free device (over £500 inc VAT)
Regardless of the money and the wait, I want one, the interface looks brilliant, (although maybe not as intuitive as the Windows Mobile live tiles) and most importantly it will stop me looking like one of these
RIM’s problems have been clear for all to see with Google Android the leading smartphone operating system, Nokia appearing revitalised and fresh with Windows 7.5 and all Office365 can bring, not to mention apple iPad emphatically dominating the tablet market.
I remembering blogging last year, although not on this timeline, that I was eager to get my hands on the BlackBerry Playbook, there had been delay after delay on it’s launch and I really wanted one to supplement the productivity of my 9780.
When I did finally get my hands on it in July 2011 I was underwhelmed, the novelty factor of a sweeping and smooth touchscreen on a BlackBerry faded quickly and within weeks it was gone and my 9780 was traded in for an HTC Trophy to harness the power of our Microsoft Office 365 integration.
Now despite reading about some very impressive features, being able to use your BlackBerry handset as mouse and keyboard is a big plus for those of us that just cannot punch out emails and reports as quickly on touch screens, but it might be too late, well for me at least.
Now everything I need works seamlessly through my windows phone, and with handset choices from HTC in the Radar & Titan, ZTE Tania, Samsung Omnia W and Nokia Lumia 800 & 900 (4.3″ AMOLED screen!!!) to choose from when I get bored I can’t see a move back to BlackBerry for the Playbook only.
For those of you loyal to your full QWERTY keypad, the good news is that you will soon be able to access the full Android app market on your BlackBerry once they launch the new OS, so if you haven’t moved maybe it isn’t too late and in true Rocky fashion, RIM will pick themselves up off the canvas and land a knockout blow of their own.