Do you remember life before the Internet? Younger generations in developed countries will likely find it hard to imagine, but there was once a time when information wasn’t always a few taps or clicks away. Now, whether you’re in your home or on the go, the world’s information is always at your fingertips. Of course, there are still billions of people who do not have the same easy access to the web that many of us take for granted. In fact, more people than you might imagine have never accessed the Internet at all in their lifetimes.
If you see an unidentified flying object with a Google logo on it, don’t worry too much — the company isn’t planning to abduct you and subject you to invasive probes, especially since its own algorithms are capable of probing you more thoroughly than any aliens ever could. Space.com reports that two years ago, some residents in Pike County, Kentucky reported seeing what they thought were UFOs from outer space but that turned out to be some of Google’s balloons that the company plans to use to bring Wi-Fi connectivity to rural parts of the world that lack Internet service. More →
Regardless of what Bill Gates thinks, Google is going ahead with its initiative to improve Internet access in Africa with large balloons that can send Wi-Fi signals to rural parts of the continent. Google said this week that it’s started running tests of its Project Loon balloons in California’s Central Valley “to research various approaches for improving the technology, like the power systems (solar panel orientation and batteries), envelope design, and radio configuration.” The company has already been testing out the balloons in both New Zealand and some parts of Africa, although there’s still no timetable for when Google’s balloons will be ready to deliver service.