The Google logo is seen during the gathering of startups and tech leaders, Viva Tech, in Paris, France, May 16, 2019.
Charles Platiau | Reuters
Inside Google, a team of techs have been working behind the scenes on software for high-speed communications networks that stretch from earth to space.
Dubbed “Minkowski” within Google, the secret project is unveiled to the public on Monday in the form of a new spin-out called Aalyria.
While Google declined to provide details about Aalyria, such as how long it’s been working on the technology and how many employees are joining the startup, Aalyria said in a press release that its mission is to run “hyper fast, ultra – secure and highly complex communication networks that span land, sea, air, near space and deep space.”
The company claims to have laser communication technology “at a scale and speed exponentially greater than anything in existence today.” Aalyria’s software platform has been used in several aerospace networking projects for Google.
The spin-out comes as Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reckons with slowing ad spending and seeks to advance or end experimental projects. Part of that means seeking outside funding for some of the projects he’s incubated for years. Companies such as life sciences company Verily and self-driving car maker Waymo have raised funds from outside investors, while Alphabet has firm initiatives such as Makani, which built energy-generating kites, and Loon, an Internet-broadcasting balloon company.
Aalyria said it has an $8.7 million commercial contract with the US Defense Innovation Unit. The company will be led by the CEO Chris Taylor, a national security expert who has run other companies that have worked with the government. Taylor’s LinkedIn profile says he’s the CEO of a stealth-mode company he founded in November.
Alphabet itself sought more lucrative government contracts earlier this year announcement “Google Public Sector”, a new subsidiary focused on partnerships with the US government primarily through Google Cloud.
Aalyria’s advisory board includes several former Google employees and executives, as well as Vint Cerf, Google’s top internet evangelist, known as one of the fathers of the web.
Google will retain a minority stake in Aalyria but declined to say how much it owns and how much outside funding the company has raised. Google said earlier this year it transferred nearly a decade of intellectual property, patents and physical assets, including office space, to Aalyria.
Aalyria’s light-laser technology, which it calls “Tightbeam”, claims to keep data “intact through atmosphere and weather conditions and provides connectivity where no supporting infrastructure exists”.
“Tightbeam radically improves satellite communications, Wi-Fi in planes and ships, and cellular connectivity everywhere,” the company said.
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