Google’s failed balloon-based internet may be saved by laser

It was Alphabet’s Loon project, which aims to provide the Internet via a series of balloons closed last year But the technology associated with it has turned into a startup that is ditching floating platforms and aiming to use lasers and the cloud to provide internet to remote places. The company that inherits Google tech is called Aalyria and while CNBC Reports If Alphabet has a minority stake in it, it will not be a direct subsidiary of the fictitious Google.

Aalyria has two main focuses: Tightbeam, a laser communications system that uses beams of light to transmit data between base stations and endpoints, and Spacetime, a cloud-based software that aims to reconcile ever-changing communications. was spacetime originally intended To predict how the Loon balloons will move and keep the bond between them strong; Now, its mission predicts when a Tightbeam station (which can be ground-based or satellite-based) will have to hand over its connection to a moving object, such as an airplane or boat.

according to report from BloombergAalyria is selling its software now and plans to sell Tightbeam hardware next year. In theory, the two could work together or separately – space-time isn’t just limited to laser-based systems.

Tightbeam aims to transmit data in the same way as a fiber optic cable, transmitting light from one point to another. It only does so over the air rather than through physical contact, which makes it more flexible, especially over long distances. The company claims that the system is amazingly fast: “100-1,000 times faster than anything else available today,” according to a press release. This, it seems, is strength frickin’ laser beams – although it does come with some potential reliability downsides that physical fibers don’t, which we’ll touch on shortly. (Dr. Evil’s reference comes directly from Aalyria; Bloomberg He says his lab has “carvings of sharks with laser beams on their heads.”)

Bloomberg He points out that Tightbeam is out of a Google project called Sonora, which the company hasn’t talked about publicly. However, Alphabet had another separate laser project related to Loon that did not see the light of day: the Taara project, which Provided Internet service in Africa Using the laser originally designed to connect balloons together.

Project Taara used those lasers, known as Free Space Optical Communications, to augment conventional fiber runtime, but could theoretically be used in places where running cables would be impossible or complicated (such as crossing a gorge, valley, or river, for example). At the time, Tara’s team said the system was relatively resilient to obstructions such as fog, light rain and birds, but acknowledged that Africa’s climate was more ideal than that of San Francisco, where fog is very constant. She has her own article on Wikipedia.

Aalyria says it has its own way of dealing with turbulence, which involves compensating for how something like rain or dust distorts or scatters the light used to transmit data (an important consideration when sending this light through the air and not the shielded glass strands that make up fiber optic cables) .

The company appears to be looking to engage with SpaceX in terms of the services it provides. According to CNBC, it hopes its laser communications technology will be used to provide services to planes, ships, cellular and satellite communications. Using more radio waves, Starlink started providing Wi-Fi for Some airlines And the cruise ships Beside kick and home Internet clients. SpaceX also transmits information from space. Bloomberg It is noted that some Tightbeam tests have involved sending signals from ground stations above on planes and The company’s website He says something similar can be done to send signals to satellites as well.

As for improving cellular connectivity, Aalyria has a lot of competition from satellite companies like Globalstar (Apple partner for the recently announced Emergency SOS feature via satellite), SpaceX and T-MobileAnd the AST SpaceMobile, Lynk GlobalAmazon, which He has an agreement with Verizon To provide connection services to remote cellular towers via satellite for the Kuiper project.

Now, Alia is small: 26 people, according to Bloomberg. And while they have the right to use Google’s technology, there is a difference between making great technology, testing it and being able to sell it for use in the real world — something Alphabet himself discovered with Loon’s Trial commercial service in Kenya.

However, the idea was apparently interesting enough to attract some investors, including the US Department of Defense. Whether you are an evil villain Trying to beautify your den Or a company that is trying to “connect everything that exists today to everything that exists tomorrow,” as Aalyria CEO Chris Taylor put it. BloombergLasers are still very effective at capturing the imagination.

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