In an earlier period of its history, Google became famous for pursuing a range of long-shot projects, such as space elevators, as well as kites that doubled as wind turbines. Among the most whimsical was Loon, a plan to use high-flying balloons to beam superfast internet to areas that couldn’t be served by more traditional means. The company shut down the project last year, and it’s uncertain whether anyone will ever build a significant balloon-based wireless network. But some of the key technology behind Loon is reemerging in what could end up being the fastest long-distance wireless communications system yet created.
Earlier this year, a group of Google R&D veterans founded Aalyria Technologies, a startup meant to breathe new life into their innovations. One part of Aalyria centers on taking software used by the Loon group and turning it into a cloud-based system for managing complex networks that connect things like satellites, planes, and boats with high-speed internet. Another part of the startup has repurposed a second set of former Google wares to create a line of laser-based wireless networking equipment.