A research team from the University of Buffalo, New York have been testing an underwater wi-fi network in a lake near Buffalo. The aim is to make a deep-sea internet; an agreed standard for underwater communications so that interaction and data-sharing is easier.
The team are not using the conventional wi-fi, which makes use of radio waves. Although radio waves can penetrate water, they have extremely limited range and stability. So the researches are experimenting with the use of sound waves, which are already naturally used by many aquatic species such as dolphins and whales.
Wireless communication underwater is already possible but there are some problems. For example getting seperate systems used by different organisations to communicate with one another is an issue.
Although the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been able to use acoustic waves to send data from tsunami sensors on the sea floor to surface buoys, the data collected cannot be shared quickly with other information collected by the US Navy.
“Help Save Lives”
The Buffalo team are working to create a shared standard. They carried out a test at Lake Erie near Buffalo, where they dropped two 18kg sensors into the water and then using a laptop they transmitted the information back.
“A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyse data from our oceans in real time,” said Tommaso Melodia, lead researcher.
“Making this information available to anyone with a smartphone or computer, especially when a tsunami or other type of disaster occurs, could help save lives.”
It is hoped that the sensors will help detect and solve environmental issues and then with the shared standard, different research groups will be able to combine the data easier and in real-time.
The team will present their findings at a conference for underwater networking next month in Taiwan.
[Image via abc news]