Although it may sound as a journalistic cliché, Google is one of those rare brands which сhange our lives for good. The inventor of the world’s most popular search engine, useful digital maps, valuable online educational resources and the creator of the revolutionary Glass, the brand gets its sleeves rolled up to deliver more technology solutions to such humanitarian problems as the lack of internet access in some remote parts of the world, and eradication of child porn from the web.
Project Loon: internet “from” balloon
The new Google’s effort is set to bring internet access to developing nations in the parts of the world where wired or wireless communications are not available.
A complex engineering system slung at the height of 20 km above the Earth under huge hot-air balloons, that travel with the wind at a slow speed in different layers of stratosphere, consists of three parts: a so-called balloon envelope, which is an inflatable part of it; a payload of solar panels that power each unit’s electronics producing 100 Watts in full sun; and a box with a circuit boards that control the system, radio and internet antennas, as well as reserve batteries for the night time.
The Project Loon is currently being tested in New Zealand, with each ballon covering an area of 1250 square km. It is said to deliver a speed of internet connection “comparable to 3G,” and to use it the participating households must set an antenna that connects with the closest balloon. Then the signal is transferred several times from one balloon to another until it joins the wireless internet on the ground.
In a video below, Rich DeVaul, Chief Technical Architect, Project Loon, explains in detail how the Loon works.
Global database against child pornography
Google engineers have been working on yet another problem, which is even more disturbing and urgent: child abuse images on the web. The search giant is reported to develop a technology that will allow to share with the rival companies the images that have been marked as illegal and then “hashed.” The new shared system means that illegal data will be easier to block everywhere on the web and, finally, eradicate completely.
Along with this continuous anti-child-porn effort, the company is providing a $2-mln grant to independent software developers who will be able to develop an effective tool to crack down on child porn.
David Drummond, chief legal officer at Google commented on the announcement:
“Since 2008, we have used ‘hashing’ technology to tag known child sexual abuse images, allowing us to identify duplicate images which may exist elsewhere. Each offending image in effect gets a unique fingerprint that our computers can recognize without humans having to view them again. Recently, we have started working to incorporate these fingerprints into a cross-industry database. This will enable companies, law enforcement, and charities to better collaborate on detecting and removing child abuse images.”