Zi Wang, a product manager for the Nexus S, says that while the launch was just for fun, it likely won’t be the last time the technology reaches space. He says Google is in talks with a UK-based satellite manufacturer to build small “commodity” satellites based on the core Nexus S technology. “The phone is powerful enough,” he says.
Seven styrofoam beer coolers sit lined up behind the open hatchback of an SUV, parked next to a soccer field in California’s rural Central valley. Each box contains a black Google Nexus S phone, mounted with their cameras facing out through a clear plastic cut-out in the side. Some of the boxes/phones have consumer-grade wide-angle sport video cameras mounted on the outside, odd bits of custom-soldered circuitry poke out of others.
In a few hours these coolers will be lifted to the edge of space, dangling beneath huge helium-filled weather balloons.
Sending small cameras to ultra-high altitudes with weather balloons is a do-it-yourself craze these days and today’s activities have more of a “let’s see what happens” feel than any rigorous product testing.
The team, made up of Google engineers and students from the University of California, Santa Cruz, is mainly curious to see how well the phone’s sensors cope with a freezing cold near-vacuum.