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Project Loon Could Provide Internet to 5 Billion Unconnected People: Google experiments with high-pr


“It sounded crazy,” says MacKenzie, after explaining how he felt when finding out that the men worked for Google. Today, Google is holding a press conference with New Zealand’s prime minister to formally unveil it as well as stage the biggest trial yet: 50 trails in Christchurch within the 12-mile range of the balloons will see if they can get connected from the sky.

In a small farming community of the Geraldine in the interior of the South Island of New Zealand, fourth-generation farmer Hayden MacKenzie accepted a participation request in a secret project. He couldn’t learn about the requirements until he and his wife signed a vow of silence and was given a peculiar red device, a sphere slightly bigger than a volleyball perched on a collar, attached to his roof. The next day, it was revealed that the antenna would give the MacKenzies Internet access due to a custom-designed communication system with another antenna floating around in the stratosphere, over 60,000 feet above sea level on a solar-powered balloon.

Two years ago, Project Loon started under incubating in Google’s high-risk research arm, Google X . That’s when Rich DeVaul, TK title, had recently arrived from a secretive post at Apple to become a “rapid evaluator” and make the project work. He came Coming up with the idea for “variable buoyancy” - steering the balloons by tweaking altitude to find wind currents whooshing in the right direction. Mike Cassidy, a top search engineer, helped build up the team as well as a collaboration with Raven Aerostar.

Soon, Project Loon was ready to attain the rare status of an initiative officially acknowledged as part of Google X. Google decided to do this in a distant land with huge swaths of rural inhabitants who yearned for broadband: New Zealand.

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