1000s Of Balloons Will Bring The Internet To The Far Corners Of The Earth (VIDEOS)

What if all the information in the world was available to every person on earth? How would it revolutionize the way we live, the way we are governed, our level of education, our access to healthcare, our ability to build our own businesses?

In the United States, most of us take such access for granted. As many as 4 billion people in the rest of the world aren’t so lucky.

Google is about to find answers to questions like the ones above with its Project Loon. The company has been developing the technology to put thousands of Internet-beaming balloons into the sky where they can be tracked and guided to provide global coverage — and possibly change the lives of billions. The possibilities are illustrated in the following whimsical video, created to introduce the idea:

The Internet is one of the single greatest weapons against tyranny and oppression. This is why countries like China have put tight controls on it. It allows dissenters to find each other and amplify their voices. The Arab Spring was due in great part to the presence of the Internet and Twitter. As you can imagine, dictators are not fond of it.

The same goes for the Republican Party here in America. They know that the widespread sharing of information is simply terrible for their cause. Ignorance and propaganda are their friends, and a free and open Internet is not conducive to their goals. Why do you think they wanted to end Net Neutrality so badly? Making the Internet even more easily accessible to Americans is not something they’re going to be happy about.

But let us return to the awesomeness of Loon! Way back in the Dark Ages of 2013, when the concept was first being tested out — and Bill Gates was grousing about it — the project was considered futuristic. Well, the future has arrived.

The beginnings, or course, were laborious. Balloons had to be taped together over a period of 3-4 days and could only be launched at a rate of one a day. Friday, Google posted an updated video on their progress (below). The project’s head engineer, Mike Cassidy, says:

Today, through our own manufacturing facility, the automated systems can get a balloon produced in just a few hours. We’re getting close to the point where we can roll out thousands of balloons.

Automated cranes can each launch dozens every day, after which they are steered into wind currents at elevations higher than planes can fly. The balloons can stay up for as much as six months.

The coming down part would seem to be problematic. Does innovation mean the Earth will be littered with thousands of giant plastic bags? Google says they have a system of tracking and predicting their descent that will allow the company to retrieve their product.

The company will partner with existing cell phone and Internet providers to make this global coverage possible. As the rollout video says, with balloons it’s “faster and cheaper and easier” to give everyone the Internet.

Watch the current status of the project in this video:

Feature photo, screenshot from YouTube video.