The first day of the Google I/O conference is nearing a close, but there is still plenty to see and learn. While a lot of the excitement today revolves around things like Google's newly announced apps, Allo and Duo, as well as the Google Home smart speaker and Google Assistant, there are other things that aren't new which have a presence there. Project Loon, for example, was on site, and we've been able to get some hands-on time with it.
If you're unaware of Project Loon, it's Google's initiative to bring internet connectivity to underdeveloped and emerging countries which may not have access to internet already, or just don't have it available in a majority of locations within the region. Google began testing Project Loon in places like Sri Lanka back in the beginning of February, although this was not the first place where test balloons were sent up into the air, as pilot tests began in June of 2013. Towards the end of January this year, India gave the go-ahead for Google to start Project Loon in the country as well. More than just emerging nations, Google's visions is to eventually to be able to deliver internet via these hot air balloons to every single person on the planet. Of course, a goal like that is a lofty one to be sure, and Google will have to start small with testing before they can branch out and really take things to a global level.
This is a mission which Google has set forth to achieve and Google rarely gives up on its projects, especially one that seems so important as this one. More than two-thirds of the World's regions have no internet connection at all, which is a big reason why Google set out to deliver it via hot air balloons. While Project Loon looks like it may be floating close to earth, it actually ends up in the stratosphere, following along with the wind around the regions where it's been deployed. Each balloon's electronics are powered by an array of solar panels that are affixed to the sides, which you can see in the image below. As it stands right now, Project Loon balloons are traveling around regions that are situated on the southern hemsphere, and as Google continues to expand the places where the test pilot is launched, the goal is to create a ring around the entire southern hemisphere for a continuous internet connection. Pretty neat huh?