An Internet Connected Earth

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that more than half of the world’s population doesn’t have an Internet connection. It’s tricky to get an exact figure on this, however the number of people without connection is commonly agreed to be somewhere around 2/3rds of the population of the planet. There are some heavy hitters working on this problem with some pretty interesting solutions.

OneWeb is an outfit with [Richard Branson] as the front-man who plan to launch low orbit satellites to communicate with ground terminals. The ground terminals would rebroadcast the communication signals from the satellites resulting in 2G, 3G, LTE, and WiFi signals for those near a ground terminal.

SpaceX is throwing its hat in the ring with a little helpful funding from Google and Fidelity to the tune of $1 Billion.

Perhaps the most surprising is [Zuckerberg’s] solar-powered internet laser beaming drones. The idea is that these laser birds will circle over an Internet dead-zone like buzzard over a dying buffalo (reaching?) and provide connectivity to those below. The solar drones will fly at an altitude of 20km which is a pretty good ways up there, and they are believed to be able to stay in flight for months at a time. There’s a Facebook PhD explaining this in a video after the break, thanks Dr. Facebook.

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TouchIt Fabulously with other people on the Internet

[John] from MIT is working on a project to bring a little bit of interactivity to the hacks he does. Because his hacks receive much more attention on the Internet than in real life, [John] made it so clicking a button in your browser can change something in the real world. He calls his creation TouchIt Fabulously (check out that URL!), and it allows a queue of people on the Internet to take part in a real-world hack.

The basic idea of [John]’s build is very simple: a microcontroller connected to the Internet and a 7-segment display receives button presses from random people on the web. [John] did a lot of work to make sure everything is ‘fair’ when a lot of people are hitting his server by including per-IP queuing and rate limiting.

Right now, it’s just a 7-segment display connected to the Internet with a live video stream. With each press of a button, the counter decrements by one, and the person to take it all the way to zero gets to put their comment up on the web site.

If this build receives a lot of interest, [John] plans on turning it into a much bigger build that will control the lights in his office, shoot ping-pong balls at him, and an interactive display where people can draw graffiti in one of MIT’s many hallways.

Now that [John]’s build is up on Hackaday, we look forward to the stress testing our readers will graciously provide.

Thanks go to [Steve Baconmeister] for sending this in and having the best fake name ever.