Google recently launched 30 giant-balloons into the stratosphere from New Zealand to bring affordable internet access to the world, particularly rural areas. It’s called Project Loon, and these “helium-filled balloons inflate to 49ft in diameter and carry transmitters that could beam 3G-speed internet to some of the 4.8billion people in the world that are not yet online, supplying an area of about 780 square miles – twice the size of New York City.” Continue reading for two videos and more information.

Project Loon was developed in the company’s X Lab by the same team behind Google Glasses and the driverless car. It is hoped it could save developing countries the high cost of laying fiber cables to get online and lead to a dramatic increase in internet access for the likes of Africa and south-east Asia.

Loon could even provide emergency back-up for areas during natural disasters. This week the balloons, made from a thin polyethylene film, were released from a frozen field near Lake Tekapo on New Zealand’s South Island, where they sailed past the magnificent Southern Alps mountains on their ascent. ‘It’s pretty hard to get the internet to lots of parts of the world,’ Richard DeVaul, chief technical architect at Google[x], told the BBC.