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Google Patenting Less Noble Use of Project Loon Tech

timothy posted about a year ago | from the seems-pretty-noble-to-me dept.

Wireless Networking 87

theodp writes "In June, Google unveiled Project Loon to acclaim from the press for its "moonshot" project that aims to use high-altitude balloons to cheaply provide internet connectivity to rural, remote, and underserved areas of the developing world. So it's interesting to see that a just-published Google patent application for Balloon Clumping to Provide Bandwidth Requested in Advance, which pre-dated the Loon launch by a year, paints a not entirely altruistic picture of balloon-powered Internet access technology. Google describes the invention — which had been kept secret with a non-publication request — as just the ticket for those well-to-do enough to pay a tiered-pricing premium to get faster internet access while attending concerts, conferences, air shows, music festivals, and sporting events where a facility's overtaxed Wi-Fi simply won't do. Hope this revelation doesn't make Bill Gates think any less of the project!"

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Google is a business... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442345)

..not a non-profit. Using the tech in this way is hardly immoral.

Re:Google is a business... (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#45442397)

..not a non-profit. Using the tech in this way is hardly immoral.

Agreed. I'm not sure why Google should be obliged to provide free WiFi to all and sundry, but I'm sure there must be some logic that will appeal to the zealot freeloader.

OTOH, Google appears to be proposing offering a service in underserved (maybe they mean undeserved?) areas, and I recall a (heavily edited) Slashdot submission I made some time ago to that effect. At that point, the notion of implementing the idea in Tasmania was mooted, which would be welcomed by yours truly, since this state is wilfully neglected by telcos who consider it their right to charge full price for a service they are prepared to offer only patchily.

If Google is prepared to offer access to the internet even on a non-free but competitively priced model, such an option might well be preferable to the single, crappy option available to me right now. If nothing else, it might provide an incentive to the local carriers to pull up their game.

Re:Google is a business... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#45443139)

I'm gonna call BS on this. You mentioned a 'heavily edited' Slashdot submission. That's about as believable as you saying you have a girl friend.

Re:Google is a business... (1)

something_wicked_thi (918168) | about a year ago | (#45444125)

Hey now. He didn't say it was edited for the better.

Re:Google is a business... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#45447595)

I'm gonna call BS on this. You mentioned a 'heavily edited' Slashdot submission.

Look for yourself. [slashdot.org]

And no, I don't have a girlfriend. I've been married for nearly 30 years... :-}

Re:Google is a business... (1, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45442419)

That depends on whether you find making a profit to be immoral.

I know we're right in the middle of the most powerful burst of the world's strongest ever atheistic religion, but it's still quite easy to conceive of a moral system which proscribes profit.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (2)

quixote9 (999874) | about a year ago | (#45442489)

What's offensive is not making a (reasonable) profit. It's acting all trippy and cool about helping the poors, and then being all about the profit. If they'd launched the balloon idea saying "We'll make a mint off rock concerts," people would have probably said only, "Interesting" and moved on.

Also, about that reasonable profit: GOOG has a bigger profit than the GDP of lots of countries. They're making that off tracking you and feeding generally off other people's data and the (publicly funded) internet. So where's my check for 10% of what they're making off me? Capitalism is not actually supposed to be synonymous with "rip off." (I know. I know. Ridiculous to even mention it at this point.)

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45442503)

Quite.

Capitalism is an interesting economic system, but has turned into a vehicle for trickery and governance.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#45442817)

I agree with that statement, but would like to expand it to all other forms of economic systems as well. Whatever system there is in place, it will be used by humans to get more money/power/toys/etc than others have. It's human nature, and it isn't going to change any time soon.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442535)

Wait, what? Are those somehow mutually exclusive?

If they'd say "Oh, we're gonna help the poor!" and then only launched those balloons over the stadiums - you'd have a point, but you're saying "How dare they _also_ use this idea for making profits!"

PS: "So where's my check for 10% of what they're making off me?" - I think you used those up to fund all the services you use. Like, you know, Google search or all the sites that opt to use Google's ads and page stats to provide the services and entertainment to the Oh So Entitled You.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45442559)

1) They were duping the public by trying to sell it as a Thing To Help The Poor when their aim has been to sell it as a Thing To Make Money. Dishonesty is a big deal, and trade is simply dysfunctional can't work without it;

2) Google's the one with the hundreds of billions which Americans have been duped into protecting, so I'm pretty sure it's the one which thinks it's Oh So Entitled.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442749)

1) I'm sorry, what were their claims and promises they broke to get the "duping" label? Did they promise not to use it to make money, or something? Did they come to you soliciting funds to provide Internet to the poor and then launched commercial service instead?

Here's duping: "Check out this idea that could get Internet across Africa!.. Psyke! We don't care about dem niggers, we're actually launching them for first-world only"

Here's what you consider duping: "Check out this idea that could get Internet across Africa!.. Hey, we can also use it in the first-world too!"

2) I'm not sure what this part has to do with this conversation at all, except that you seem to have a grudge against Google. By the way, I'm not an American.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45442917)

1) It's called "marketing", numbnuts, and it's about nine tenths lying by omission;

2) We were discussing entitlement.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442989)

1) Again, what did they lie about? Were you thinking "Ooh, that's a good project because it will be only used for charity and never for commerce!", but now you're feeling cheated (and won't buy a balloon _ever_)?

2) You'll have to elaborate then, what's Google is being Oh So Entitled to, and what does it have to do with that theoretical check for browsing Internet while watching ads and triggering stats trackers.

PS: After being called "numbnuts", I feel entitled to call you "a miserable chucklefuck". Your move.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45443029)

1) I wasn't thinking anything positive, because I know Google are a bunch of duplicitous cunts. But I do understand how to market a product, and you do it by painting the most positive possible picture of yourself and your product, and omitting to mention any less savoury intentions or features. You get the customer to link *product* with *goodness* rather than *product* with *reality*. It's an immoral psychological game;

2) Google thinks it is entitled to its income and the data it collects, duh.

And you are a kow-towing milquetoast.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45443191)

1) Err, there's something unsavoury in providing premium Wi-Fi to stadiums? There was a "customer" to Project Loon who was thinking he's just helping to get Internet to the poor and will be shocked by commercial side of reality? Somebody would think "Oh, they're not gonna make any money on Project Loon, I think I won't turn to Bing and Hotmail just yet"? You're still not making sense!

2) OK. Were you just gonna make that statement, or did you have any argument why/how this is wrong (or right)? TBH, "They feel entitled to their income!" doesn't sound like something most people would object to.

And I'm not a kow-towing milquetoast, you bile-spitting shitpickle.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45443233)

1) I didn't say "unsavoury", you rancid strawmanner. What do you mean by "the commercial side of reality"? Things can be done for profit, or at cost, or for a loss. Does it anger you that people do things sometimes at cost or for a loss? And yes, people make decisions to use a product based on the company's ethics all the time.

2) The context is whether other people should be entitled to proper compensation for the data Google collects about them - or, perhaps, proper control over that data. Your piss-poor attempt at counterargument is, "Well, Google derives an the income from this data... and I don't think most people would object to Google feeling an entitlement to their income!" There's just no logical sequence there whatever.

Let me summarise your argument:
a) Marketing doesn't exist. Anything which isn't a white lie is okay;
b) Google are currently making an income, therefore they are entitled to it.

You're a dullard, an intellectual throw-back, a jagged stone in the sole of civilisation.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45443289)

I'm pretty sure you're arguing with yourself. And probably masturbating while you think of how clever you are.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45443353)

If I could get off on how clever I am, my life would be one long orgasm.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45443363)

Whoa! A reverse double strawman! That's some pro level moves.

1) You did say "less savoury", impying that making a side profit while implementing a charity project is somehow less morally acceptable than just implementing a charity project. No, it doesn't anger me that there are purely charitable endeavors, but the opposite seems to be true for you and the OP - idea of providing service for free, but also at premium to those who can afford it seem to anger you greatly. Yes, I know that company's ethics influence people, but you still didn't establish how "giving to poor, but also selling to rich" is ethically reprehensible.

2) I haven't even provided a counterargument in the last post, you thickskulled demagogue - for the simple reason that you didn't even provide an argument to counter there! And if you'd turn back to the beginning of this argument, my actual argument was "People _are_ compensated for the data - by the services provided directly, or as a broker for the sites using Google's services".

Your summarization has nothing to do with the contents of my post and your (il)logical thinking is so crooked you probably can see the back of your head when you look in a mirror.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45444309)

1) "...seems to be true for you and the OP..." - so we're going on your vibes, now? My problem is that they patent for one specific purpose, deliberately request that the publication describing that purpose be hidden, then go off announcing a different purpose which paints the company in a better light.

The immediate problem is obvious: they're undermining the patent system, a founding aim of which was to prevent companies from keeping secrets. And they're doing because it paints them in a better light - it's the psychological trickery on which marketing is based: present yourself in the best possible light rather than providing all the information available.

If you can't see how it's dishonest to hide some planned intention then announce a different intention, I can only assume you've been clinically diagnosed as slow. I'll therefore defer to the professionals responsible for your care.

2) If someone were to punch you in the face then give you a lollipop, would you keep your mouth shut because you'd been compensated for the punch? A simple yes or no will do.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444491)

1) You're mixing it all up so nicely. Marketing, patents, intentions, vibes... But it'd do good if you'd actually read the patent and realize it's just an optional facet of this system.

And if you can't see how "some planned intention" and "a different intention" are not mutually exclusive, you should get your head checked.

And you still, after all these posts, didn't explain how "doing charity and making profits with same tech" is worse than just "doing charity".

2) Is collecting that data equivalent to punching you in the face? A simple yes or no will do. (Also, did you stop beating your wife yet?)

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45444545)

1) "An optional facet of this system" - what is that supposed to mean, and why is it relevant?

Who said they were mutually exclusive?

n'th time:
a) it is dishonest to knowingly withold relevant information about your intentions in order to paint them in a different light;
b) It's even worse when you're announcing something altruistic but in fact asserting power over both commercial and charitable competitors behind the scenes using secret patents.

2) Still waiting for your answer, homeslice.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444731)

1) optional (adj) possible but not compulsory; left to personal choice
facet (n) a particular aspect or feature of something.

It's relevant, because an optional part of a system doesn't prevent "both commercial and charitable competitors" from implementing similar networks.

And if you didn't think they're mutually exclusive, then why are you getting your panties in a bunch about still keeping original part, but also adding commercial one?

And n+1'th time: you're still not answering how different and differently lighted are "charity" vs "charity+business". For N times I asked you "Why do you think charity+business is worse than just charity?", and you repeat for N'th time: "They're bad, because they promised just charity, but are doing charity+business". As long as they don't drop the charity part - what's the difference?

2) Because your question is meaningless, you little wifebeater. Either you don't really consider a punch and a Google ad script firing to be equivalently bad, in which case that question is moot - or you actually do, in which case I'd simply recommend to extend your tinfoil hat to full body armor with RF shielding layer, so neither Google nor lollipop giving strangers could get to you.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45444813)

1) Just where do you find all these strawmen? The problem is not that they're prevented from implementing a charitable network. The problem is that their marketing did not reflect their intention.

As for, "Why do you think charity+business is worse than just charity?" see a) and b). Again. b) should be obvious even to someone of evident low intelligence such as yourself: if you secretly patent something then you're both deliberately restricting how it can be applied AND deliberately delaying the dissemination of knowledge, slowing down implementation for competitive advantage. a) is maybe half an inch more subtle, but I've explained it to you maybe three times already. However, I've always been told to be patient with the slow, so here goes again...

It is dishonest to knowingly mislead. This is why you swear to tell "the truth, the WHOLE truth" in court, and why every academic analysis of capitalism requires a perfectly informed consumer. It is not up to either me or you whether the information is relevant. In particular, an "ethical consumer" may have seen Google in a better light after hearing about this project, which was presented as altruistic, not realising that they had in fact secretly patented the design for commercialisation. They might therefore choose Google over a competitor on the basis of Google's dishonest withholding of information. You might say, "Well, that shit wouldn't matter to me cuz all I care about is greens yo," but the whole point of a free society is that it's not for you (nor me) to choose other people's values.

2) You don't actually mean "meaningless", do you? You're just misusing that term to avoid having to answer my question.

What you're attempting to argue that my question is irrelevant. And you're doing that the same way every dullard tackles an analogy: by complaining that two scenarios aren't exactly equivalent.

Dance, monkey, dance!

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

artfulshrapnel (1893096) | about a year ago | (#45443097)

I'm sorry, but I think you and the writer of this article are spinning things out of proportion and turning "there is more than one application for this invention" into "Google LIED! They said they wanted to help the poors but they want to make PROFIT off rich people! Because both can't possibly happen at once!"

All I see is a patent for a potentially profitable use of their balloon-powered internet invention, filed during the days of their research and development phase. Why would they not also find alternative uses for their product, or at least figure out ways for the generally beneficial system to be self-funding after startup?

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45443417)

All I hear is shitty patents being justified because god knows you wouldn't want something which might help people in need being built by your competitors.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#45447039)

If they'd say "Oh, we're gonna help the poor!" and then only launched those balloons over the stadiums - you'd have a point, but you're saying "How dare they _also_ use this idea for making profits!"

I think it's basically the idea that Google is better because they do this to "help the poor" and get the positive vibes from that, when in reality it's to make profit first, which are then used to help the poor.

It's like how GPL advocates always claim GPL is better than BSD because it prevents "closed sourcing" of the code. Yet said GPL advocates do the same thing, so they're claiming their license is better because it prevents "locking up the code" yet that is exactly what they do - lock up the code.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year ago | (#45442879)

Wow... So stop using all google products..
Sorry but Google provides good services and pays for them with advertising. It is no different than radio or Television was before they started the government mandated double dipping with the cable companies.
Truth is that I do not think we will ever see those loons in service. The costs will be way too high for it work to bring internet to the masses. For one thing the transmitters are to low power. They say that each of them can cover a 40km diameter area. The life of site range for a transmitter at 20km the line of site range is over 500km! So you are being limited by the power available. You only need an altitude of around 120 meters to cover the same area and that is a not all that large tower. A mesh of large towers would probably be cheaper in the long term and provide better coverage.
Plus what about the recovery of the electronics packages? Not all of them will land where they want it to. Add in the costs of He unless they go to Hydrogen to fill them. This is interesting but unlikely to be more than a pipe dream. The start up costs will be less but the long term costs will be more.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#45444029)

You only need an altitude of around 120 meters to cover the same area and that is a not all that large tower.

But you need to land to put the tower on, plus a 120m tower is a lot more expensive than a balloon. And then you also have to worry about hardening the package against weather, keeping the towers from being hit by airplanes, etc. Extreme-altitude balloons avoid all of that.

Plus what about the recovery of the electronics packages? Not all of them will land where they want it to.

They actually have a very high degree of control over them. And the goal is to make the electronics package inexpensive enough that the inevitable small percentage that gets lost is easily absorbed.

Add in the costs of He unless they go to Hydrogen to fill them.

They have thought about that, too, and have some rather creative and clever solutions. I don't know what has been disclosed publicly, though, so I won't say more.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year ago | (#45445977)

"But you need to land to put the tower on, plus a 120m tower is a lot more expensive than a balloon."
Yes but the cost of land in the third world is low and yes a ballon is less expansive but one day?

"And then you also have to worry about hardening the package against weather, keeping the towers from being hit by airplanes, etc. Extreme-altitude balloons avoid all of that."
Again I am talking about the 3rd world. 120m is not a very tall tower and aircraft rarely fly that low except to take off and land. In aviation there is an old saying, speed is life, altitude is life. Also you just put a strobe on it. And yes you will have to worry about weather and aircraft with the loons. As for aircraft the loons can not just magically go to high altitude. It will have to rise through the level where aircraft and weather are very common.

Don't forget the cost of the ground stations, the staff to launch and recover the loons, the liability if you drop a card table sized solar panel on someones head, and so on. You will need a lot of those loons to cover an area because they move.
The on problem with the towers you did not mention is the human issue. Security. How do you keep people from tearing them up.
Maybe it will work but I think it is a grand plan that will not see the light of day. There is a company that does the same thing in the midwest but cover a smaller area and are highly specialized and serve the oil industry. I am still shocked that they are cheaper than an iridium modem or satellite internet.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#45446219)

I agree that towers wouldn't work. It's not clear that balloons will, but it's also not clear that they won't.

I've seen estimates of numbers of balloons, equipment and operational costs, etc., plus discussions of a lot of other issues you probably haven't considered like, what about countries that don't want to allow Google to fly balloons over them? The winds don't pay attention to lines on the map. The people who are working on this are very bright, and they've been thinking very hard about all of these issues -- including land-based alternatives, hybrid options, etc. -- for years now... and they've even designed built, launched, flown and recovered balloons and the electronics, negotiated agreements with governments for overflight, and RF communications licenses, and quite a bit more.

My point: The Project Loon team knows a lot more about this than either of us, and their take is that it might be impossible, but so far it actually looks like it will work.

Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year ago | (#45447933)

I think towers can work because well they do. Walk outside with your smartphone and you will see that it does. The range issue will be limited with towers to the power of the remote device. If you do not target cell phone level devices and go with fixed sites then you can get much larger coverage area from a tower.
"My point: The Project Loon team knows a lot more about this than either of us, and their take is that it might be impossible, but so far it actually looks like it will work."

I do not like the don't question, trust us route. They probably do know a lot more than us. That does not mean that they might let their excitement over the potential carry them away.

The overflight problem well be an issue. Not just for "hostile" nations but for every nation. Now do they know that the loons are not sigint systems for the US? It could be mapping every radar location in a nation. The US will not like them overflying some bases like Groom Lake or China Lake. They will also have to have transponders so they can be tracked for space launches. Can you imagine the grief if a launch has to scrubbed because of a Loon overflight? A person that grew up reading Popular Science I have to say that this looks like one of those cover stories that end up never happening.

I am glad that they know that it may be impractical. Loon may make for much better weather balloons and even help with emergency communications during natural disasters. It could even be used for Earth Sensing missions. I can also the military using it but for bringing internet to the 3rd world? I guess I am with Bill Gates on this, water, food, medicine, roads, power, and schools all are more important that the internet people living in those conditions.
Loon is a valid research project but I doubt I will see it ever in wide spread use. That being said it is a valid research project and I could be wrong. I would bet that I am right but still stranger things could happen.

And if you know people that work in Google... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year ago | (#45448165)

If they have time to work on Loon please tell them.
To fix maps. I really want to have the option to search along a route. Send a route that I hand edit to my phone from the Web. And use GPX files with navigator.
Stop pretending you do not own Motorola. The MotoX is a great phone but you need to really put a top notch screen on it and the battery from the razor. And a really good camera. Apple has one and WP8 has one.
Put KitKat on my Galaxy Nexus... Yes I know it has OMAP but that was your choice.
More Google Fiber please.
Come on Google. A Google TV that also plays console games. The Ouya done right with the full play store. Include USB 3.0 ports so you can use it as a NAS and or for home automation. Mainly for home automation but having the option of it being a NAS is cool. Why USB 3 for home automation? So you can add a ZWave, Zigbee, or what ever else comes along.
Oh and Google how about this Google+ Craigslist. Seems like a great idea to add classifieds to Google+ I hate searching through Craigs list and I know Google could do a better job. Think of getting up and using Google Now by saying. Show me all the garage sales that have tools near me?
And open an office in Tradition Florida's research park and hire me. :)

Re:Google is a business... (1)

swampfriend (2629073) | about a year ago | (#45442711)

Considering that these are supposed to be helium balloons, and we're facing a global helium shortage - yes, this is an immoral use of the technology. It was already a matter for debate when they were going to waste helium to bring the miracle of Twitter to the earth's rural poor. They're hastening the demise of MRI machines in the name of higher bandwidth for the globe-hopping ultra-rich, that is what I call "evil."

Re:Google is a business... (1)

artfulshrapnel (1893096) | about a year ago | (#45442999)

Indeed. Though I actually can't think of a reason not to switch to hydrogen on these.... they don't carry living things, operate way above the altitude where airlines are in use, and could be safely recovered after their lift runs out by venting the remaining gas into the air.

I suppose one could go up if there's a lightning strike at high altitude, but the only difference would be a slightly bigger "whoomph" as the thing falls out of the sky?

Re:Google is a business... (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#45444291)

I have wondered about that myself. Why not hydrogen for all unmanned balloons?

For that matter, with modern materials and safer designs, manned vehicles could use at least a percentage of hydrogen as well. Slightly more lift, cheaper, and more renewable.

Re:Google is a business... (1)

AbominousSalad (1774194) | 1 year,25 days | (#45496225)

Entitlement at its finest.

How dare they put hard work, money, legal processes, and their own liability on the line in hopes of PAYMENT?!?

It's as if the whole human race needed food and shelter and charged MONEY for those things!

But hey, it's another chance to point out that I don't know why timothy still has this job.

Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442351)

Does anyone understand this article? If so, please explain.

Re:Wat? (4, Informative)

Entrope (68843) | about a year ago | (#45442377)

Google patented a method to help cover the costs of free wireless access balloons. This of course makes a bunch of idiots very upset that Google would not just pay for the balloons out of their magic profit printing press, because Google forbid that people who use a service help pay for it.

Re:Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442435)

Google patented a method to help cover the costs of free wireless access balloons. This of course makes a bunch of idiots very upset that Google would not just pay for the balloons out of their magic profit printing press, because Google forbid that people who use a service help pay for it.

If you just think of corporations as cheap, trashy, disease-ridden crackwhores who would slit their mama's throat for a nickel, and governments as their high-roller clients, then the world makes a lot more sense.

Re: Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442561)

I think you meant to reverse those roles.

Re:Wat? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#45442617)

Google patented a method to help cover the costs of free wireless access balloons.

More exactly, Google applied for that patent and asked for that application to be kept secret, and then promoted that method as a way to give cheap broadband to rural areas without revealing that they had applied for a patent for this.

I couldn't care less about the fact that they might also make money by using that method on festivals. But promoting a technology, especially as solution for the poor, without revealing that you applied for a patent on that very technology is dishonest.

Re:Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442773)

Did you actually read the patent?

It doesn't cover the "using balloons to deliver Internet", it covers "sending more balloons when there's a projected spike in consumption"

Re:Wat? (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#45442869)

Wait a sec. They need a separate patent to send more balloons, when there are already patented balloons in place?

Re:Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442943)

To send more ballons _automatically_, yes.

They're talking about a computer reading news, calendars, social media or receiving requests for more bandwidth and routing balloons where needed.

I don't know whether high-altitude balloon network itself's patented and on what terms if yes, but this patent can be worked around by having people direct them or, if I understood correctly, making each balloon "self-aware".

... Just imagine all the self-aware balloons from around the globe accidentally deciding to flock down on Infinite Loop, 1...

Re:Wat? (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year ago | (#45444133)

Bill Gates is pissed that after spending Billions of dollars on public relations, people still like google more

>Hope this revelation doesn't make Bill Gates think any less of the project!?

You don't mean... you can't...! (4, Informative)

J'raxis (248192) | about a year ago | (#45442359)

Wait, you don't mean someone has figured out how to use this technology for their own benefit, do you!? The horror! The humanity of it all!!

Re:You don't mean... you can't...! (2)

bigwheel (2238516) | about a year ago | (#45442453)

Think they considered hanging a camera on each of those balloons? Nah. Who would want that?

Re:You don't mean... you can't...! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45442713)

they were going to but then lawyers from nfl called.

it's a fucking business model patent though.. tell me again how those being patentable benefit the public?

You mean they're going to make money from it? (4, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#45442369)

The horror, the horror!

Re:You mean they're going to make money from it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442381)

right wing dickhole douchebag

Re:You mean they're going to make money from it? (2)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#45442875)

right wing dickhole douchebag

You forgot to say ", reporting for duty."

Google defense squad out in force (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442383)

Go go Google defense squad. Tell us obvious things like 'Google is a business'. Enjoy your Google+ to use wifi.

Re:Google defense squad out in force (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442399)

Go go Google defense squad.

Maybe they can defend yo mama's asshole from entry of black cock! (Whys it gotta be a black cock, you say? It just does.)

Re:Google defense squad out in force (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442465)

My cock is black, you insensitive clod.

-- Edit: Did Slashdot add contextual captchas? Mine was "anaconda".

Re:Google defense squad out in force (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442783)

It's hard to tell what color cocks are, because they're usually covered in feathers.

Re:Google defense squad out in force (2)

Baldorcete (1184665) | about a year ago | (#45442491)

Using this tech for profit in developed countries, doesn't precludes using the same tech in underdeveloped and underserved countries for free.

Consider how patents work (1)

grimJester (890090) | about a year ago | (#45442415)

Patents prevent others from doing the thing outlined in the patent, no more and no less. So, companies other than Google are now prohibited from charging money for balloon wifi during concerts, while Google may or may not charge money for the same? Oh, the horror!

Re:Consider how patents work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442519)

Not really sure how that works. The entire patent is written as 'could' and 'possibly' and 'any obvious combination of'. So here we have the idea that you can project/forecast future demand, receive calls for service, balloons (\o/ Squirrels!), and hot spots. Where the patent is that any obvious combination of any of these obvious things could possibly be used to possibly let people call --- how? The could if they had a balloon -- to ask that Google show up to a party with balloons and a hotspot. Maybe.

I'd rather prefer to think of it as a gag patent. For how is there anything novel or unobvious in a patent that states 'Maybe you can imagine every possible obvious combination of these obvious objects.'? For my faith in humanity this has to be a Rule 34 case for patent lawyers.

Re:Consider how patents work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45443319)

I guess everything you haven't actually done but have had explained to you qualifies as an obvious invention, right? After all, you can conceive of it now that someone else came up with it and educated you about it. Totally obvious!

Re:Consider how patents work (1)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about a year ago | (#45442687)

They aren't going to charge for it. They're going to use it to track their Google+ users.

Re:Consider how patents work (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#45442689)

So, companies other than Google are now prohibited from charging money for balloon wifi during concerts

A patent covers not the charging for a technology, it covers the use of the technology. Any use, including offering it for free.

Re:Consider how patents work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442973)

No,
That's not how patents work. Suggest you read more.

I call BS on this (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442475)

"which had been kept secret with a non-publication request"

This is total BS, patent applications publish automatically after 18months. In order to publish it sooner they actually have to pay. This patent app published exactly on schedule as every other patent application in the western world does, no "non-publication request" or any other such nonsense.

Re:I call BS on this (1)

theodp (442580) | about a year ago | (#45444047)

Filing a Non-Publication Request [galvanilegal.com] : "Not very long ago, patent applications were maintained in secrecy until they issued as patents. Today, however, an application is published 18 months after its effective filing date, meaning that anyone can see your invention after you file it. By filing a non-publication request, though, you can keep your application secret during prosecution."

NSA/Google is a peice of shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442479)

fuck them, i don't give a fuck if they use linux, hell if fucking hitler used linux you chumps would probably support him, i can see the slashdot headline now "Nazi party switches to Linux, OpenOffice after mandate from Fuehrer" or some shit and you all would be like oh boy that's great!

Re:NSA/Google is a peice of shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442669)

You sound like a fucking republican nazi nigger.

Shut up.

And over battlefields and devastated areas? (1)

jasax (1728312) | about a year ago | (#45442857)

Just two more scenarios, such as deploying balloons to set up communication channels over Philippines' islands recently devastated by the Haiyan typhoon... Were these uses also patented, or are they still open to comm-balloon business?

Certainly these are not music festivals or sports events :-(

Re:And over battlefields and devastated areas? (1)

theodp (442580) | about a year ago | (#45444105)

The patent application appears to cover this scenario, as well as other disasters. From the filing: "[0127] Random, but similar, events could also trigger a determination of a projected change in bandwidth demand. For example, a disaster event such as a fire could happen at any time at any location. Based on publicly accessible information (e.g., from news sources, social media, the Internet), an inference could be made about a projected change in bandwidth demand due to the specific fire location and specific fire size. For instance, a controller of the balloon network could monitor news reports for the location of a disaster event (which may suggest the number of individuals affected by the disaster due to, for instance, local population density) and the extent of the disaster (e.g., earthquake magnitude on the Richter scale, number of fire stations responding to a fire, etc.). Based on the information, an inference could be made regarding a possible bandwidth demand near the location of the disaster event. The controller may form an inference based on various information. For instance, the controller could have a historical record of bandwidth needs regarding similar disasters affecting similar number of individuals. Based on the historical record of bandwidth needs, the controller could make inferences regarding a projected change of bandwidth demand that could correspond to historical bandwidth needs from similar disaster events in the past. "

Re:And over battlefields and devastated areas? (1)

thej1nx (763573) | about a year ago | (#45447217)

And what exactly is the problem that you have? Is your hatred for google so unreasonably moronic, that you would rather not permit any communication channels remaining open in disaster areas, lest *horrors* google made some profit? Newsflash!!! Google is a for-profit corporation. They are bloody well supposed to provide the maximum return legally possible to their shareholders, for their investment! From what I have seen, google at least behaves downright angelic while starting people-locating projects like (http://google.org/personfinder/global/home.html) for free. Where are such projects from Apple and Microsoft? If they came up with the idea, damn right they should be allowed to earn some reasonable amount of money from it, to invigorate and encourage such creativity and inventing. That is the whole damned purpose of having patents!!! It is at least lot more reasonable than apple trying to stifle competition by patenting nonsensical stuff like "round corners".

Hate Google Much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442939)

How desperate do you have to be to hate Google that you'd try to use this against them when the most evil-sounding description you can come up with is "not entirely altruistic"? How many of your daily actions in life are entirely altruistic? The technology has a lot of promise for helping the under-served, but it's a very large-scale ambitious project, and it does have to return a profit somehow. Getting rich people to pay exorbitant fees for exclusive high-speed connectivity during crowded events, and using that money to fund a system that might bring Wikipedia to poor users in Nigeria? Sounds almost like a modern version of the Robin Hood story.

And...? (2)

artfulshrapnel (1893096) | about a year ago | (#45442971)

I really don't see why an innovation cannot simultaneously be both altruistic in intent and potentially profitable in application.

Who cares if they can also make some money on their invention that will bring internet to the world's remotest, poorest people at low or no cost? Good. It'll give them a reason to go ahead with it at all speed, and avoid it being shelved if they have a bad quarter.

Can I mod an article flamebait? (2)

artfulshrapnel (1893096) | about a year ago | (#45443119)

I still have mod points left!

In the United Kingdom... (1)

jaredm1 (1620295) | about a year ago | (#45443129)

He could (and probably would) be arrested for providing material useful to terrorists. Anyone who visits the site is likely to be placed under a veil of suspicion too. The most dangerous act of terrorism is about to be defined as.... 'thinking'.

ultra-rich? maybe the organizer needs internet? (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#45443405)

Funny how rather than the realistic idea that the organizers of an event might have use for internet access, TFA assumes some ultra-rich lady would bring her own internet. At say, the Super Bowl, do you think maybe the broadcast crews, the security team, the merchandising companies etc. might want reliable internet access? Nah, I'm sure just some random guy in seat 44K would be the customer.

This author sure had to work hard at playing stupid to come up with this attack against Google, didn't they.

Re:ultra-rich? maybe the organizer needs internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45446495)

Bro, I work for a broadcaster at stadium type events. Stadiums are jam-packed with Ethernet, DSL and Fiber circuits, we don't have any problems getting reliable internet access. Also as broadcasters we have access to a boat load of additional spectrum in the form of Wireless microphones, STL links and TVOB links (these are only allowed for video and audio circuits). Also smartphones pretty much never have 5.8GHz 802.11a radios, so we use 5.8, 13 and 18GHz links for additional linking when there's no ethernet at a particular part of the park.

Really I don't understand how Google's approach is any use at all. As broadcast techs, we have all-access passes, which let us go everywhere in the stadium that isn't behind a locked door, and if we want to go there we only have to ask. It's no problem at all climbing up on the roof of the stadium and bolting on another microwave antenna for the duration of the event.

And as for providing internet access to the Qrichguy of the general public, iPhones and the like only have cellular and 2.4GHz radios, so if there is spectrum overcrowding at the event (and there's usually not), Google can't come to the rescue with their wunder-blimp, as there will be no free channels to operate on. Cellular companies already show up at every major event with supplementary access trucks, I'm not sure how a blimp is supposed to perform better, with only access to ISM bands (Google isn't a cellular spectrum licensee AFAIK). The only way I can see this working out, is if the event charges high fees for Qjohnpublic to access wifi, and Google use their blimp to undercut the event organisers, basically freeloading off the event organisers by not paying the let fees that all the on-the-ground operators have to pay.

yeah, bad example. Ask Slashdot bandwidth pot fest (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#45446859)

Okay I chose a bad example. On the other hand, I've been to fairly large conferences where reliable bandwidth was an issue. IA2000 comes to mind. I wouldn't be surprised if organisers and vendors could use backup / more connectivity at events like certain Ren Festivals. A few months ago an event organizer posted an Ask Slashdot about bandwidth for a pot fest of some sort, maybe a reggae festival, I don't recall exactly what.

Google will bid $ pi billion for whatever spectrum they find suitable. :)

Re:yeah, bad example. Ask Slashdot bandwidth pot f (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45447023)

I am the anon above.

I think a great deal more could be done, if more efficient wide-band SDR chips existed. The SDR used in baseband processors is single IF, and the RF front-end, for energy efficiency reasons, only supports 4 or 5 fixed bands. There are some pretty awesome wideband (70~6GHz) SDR chips made by Analog Devices, Qualcomm, LimeMicro, et al, but they are all too power-hungry to be practical for use in a smartphone. Therefore, with current handsets, Google can buy some expensive spectrum (maybe, can they really afford to bid as much as AT&T or Verizon), but it will be of no use to existing smartphone users, as the only interfaces available on those handsets is 700/850/900/1800/1900/2600 (depending on baseband configuration) 3GPP or LTE interfaces, and 2.4GHz ISM (specifically 802.11) interfaces. All 3GPP and LTE bands have already been licensed, and 2.4GHz ISM may already be congested by event users (though in my experience this has never been the case, we tend to make the individual wifi APs as low power as we can to cover the area it will be used in).

It would be fantastic if more radio devices were "frequency-agile", as is the term for it now. I keep up to date and participate in spectrum planning consultation, and the recurring theme is that frequency agility would free up lots of existing spectrum ownership, but at every consultation there is also pushback from a large number of users (some of questionable honesty) of the form "we can't move to a frequency agile mode of operation, because our existing equipment is only setup to operate in one band or frequency", which is somewhat true for GMRS, totally true for cellphone handsets, and almost complete nonsense for modern LTE and 3GPP nodeBs (antennas would need to be replaced with frequency agile systems, but everything else is already agile, using the exact same chipsets as mentioned at the start of my post). In every consultation, I feel like the government is being regulated by industry, and they should be more dictatorial, and impose regulations requiring frequency agility on existing and new systems, instead of getting the same response at every 5 yearly consultation: "We can't do it, we just bought new gear that's not agile". They should just put their foot down, say something like "at the next 5-yearly plan, we WILL impose frequency agility regulation on you, and at the one after, we WILL mandate it". It's well within technical engineering capabilities to have a distributed network of spectrum allocation transponders, and restrict operation to CSMA modes in CSMA reserved spectrum if a beacon cannot be communicated with or a suitable reservation cannot be made for whatever other reason.

There is so much criticism of government regulation at this site, but governments, in general, are being rather limp-wristed when it comes to regulations aimed at the general welfare, and only firm when it comes to regulation for special interests.

Google is the new Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45443437)

In the same way that Microsoft were the next IBM. Any business making money demands market share and then spectacularly trip over its own nads.

Next patent application (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45443471)

I'm going to go patent a pellet gun for shooting down these balloons. I think I'll call it the "quality of service assurance device."

loon powered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45443633)

Since when did water fowl enter into it? I thought all the good tech was reserved for sharks.

motives explained (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year ago | (#45444115)

Sour Grapes From Bill Gates

>Hope this revelation doesn't make Bill Gates think any less of the project!"

or if Bill Gate's projects involve getting UNICEF to buy from organizations he hold stock in such as Monsanto and GlaxoKlineSmith

No, impossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444693)

Technology has more than one application? I wonder if my computer can do more than browse the web...!

Submitter doesn't know how the patent system works (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45446221)

1. The standard amount of time for a patent application to be held by the USPTO before publication is 18 months. This appears to have been filed on May 14, 2012 and published on November 14, 2013......18 months to the day. It looks like he made up the "non-publication request" part of this to make Google seem like it was trying to hide something.

2. Just because a patent is filed does not mean it is being or will be actually implemented. This is hard to drill through the scull of every fanboy that gets excited that the next smartphone they are eagerly waiting for will have everything the company has filed a patent for in it.

Re:Submitter doesn't know how the patent system wo (1)

theodp (442580) | about a year ago | (#45447035)

It's behind a CAPTCHA, but if you look up the image file wrapper, you'll see an entry for "05-14-2012 PG.NONPUB.RQ Nonpublication request from applicant.".

nice (1)

amonamaranth (3448465) | 1 year,19 days | (#45554323)

Google is always there with nice ideas.
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