Innovation Nation: Project Loon

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There’s nothing worse for most people  in today’s world than a spotty wi-fi connection. It interrupts your work, your play–even some applications you don’t even realize you rely on can be impacted by a faulty wireless connection. But, many people forget that, as annoying as .1kpbs per second downloads are, there are large swathes of the world with little to no access to the internet at all. These areas tend to be low-income, rural, and forgotten by mainstream society. With information access being redefined as a human right, the gap between those with internet access and those without has served to reinforce power imbalances as old as society, creating an ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

Enter Project Loon.

Google, ever determined to usher us into the future of our collective imaginations, has begun an initiative to bring internet access to the most remote areas of the world. This project could mean that billions of people in regions like India could gain internet access for the first time. It isn’t hard to imagine a future where all of our internet operates on satellite systems as opposed to the underground and undersea wiring system we have used since the ‘net was born.

The “Loon” in Project Loon is short for ‘balloon’, referring to the weather-balloon-like apparatus used to keep the transmitters in the air. They are deployed to 20km over the Earth, in that ambiguous area between space and the atmosphere. Perhaps in the future, this technology will be upgraded to full-on satellites as opposed to the balloon-sattelite-hybrid seen here.

What do you think of this new technology? What will the internet look like when its population suddenly swells by, potentially, billions of new users? How will this change the economic landscape of the net? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Innovation Nation: The Pilot


One of the most frustrating experiences in life can be trying to communicate with someone who does not speak your language. If you neither of you are familiar with the other’s language, it can quickly become a frustrating exercise in futility.

The universal translator has been a staple of science fiction since the mid-1900s, first appearing in the 1945 novella “First Contact”. While it has, for many years, been regarded as a nearly impossible device by linguists, it seems we are on the cusp of having this technology for ourselves. Meet The Pilot.

The Pilot has the capability to translate French, Italian, and Spanish into English in real time. Just hook it up to your phone’s companion app and select the language you’re listening to, and in theory, you will receive a real time translation. The project raised $1.8 million on Indiegogo, and will be available, in theory, in the coming months.

It seems too good to be true, but only time will tell whether or not it is truly viable. If it does work, we can all rest assured that soon no traveler will go anywhere without them.

Interested in getting one the minute it comes out? You can sign up at for updates and a coupon when the device is released.

What language would you most want to see on The Pilot? Let us know in the comments.