Google swaps internet-beaming balloons for… lasers –

Whether it’s Twitter jumping from podcasts to microblogs or Amazon flipping from books to well, everything, the tech world is certainly no stranger to pivots.
Now, a Silicon Valley giant has made one of the industry’s more unusual-seeming strategic swerves. A company spun off from Google parent Alphabet is jumping from stratospheric balloons… to lasers.
In the works for around a decade, Google’s Loon project aimed to bring high speed internet to hard-to-reach areas via a network of high altitude balloons.
And last year, Alphabet announced it was closing the ‘moonshot’ project. But according to The Verge, some of its tech might find a new lease of life in a futuristic laser-based communications system.
On Monday, Alphabet spin-off Aalryia announced it was going to use Google’s tech, patents and even office space to develop the new system.
In a press release, it called itself ‘an independent company with a mission to orchestrate and manage hyper-fast, ultra-secure, and highly complex communications networks that span land, sea, air, and space.’
The firm currently has two main areas of focus: the ‘Tightbeam’ laser communications system and a cloud-based software called ‘Spacetime.’
Tightbeam is expected to transmit data via a network of laser stations, some of which could be ground-based and some of which could be satellite-based.
Spacetime software would then help ‘orchestrate’ this network of moving parts, keeping connections strong. Originally developed for Loon, it could also be used to help manage other, non-laser networks.
Aaryia, of which Alphabet maintains a slice, has high hopes for its technology, which it says will extend ‘to places where there is no connectivity infrastructure — at an exponentially greater scale and speed than anything that exists today.’
The firm, which faces stiff competition from companys like Elon Musk’s Starlink, announced it has already won an $8m contract with US Department of Defense body the Defense Innovation Unit.
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