New Underwater Internet to Make Deep Sea Communication Possible

First Posted: Oct 16, 2013 08:14 AM EDT

A team of researchers is working on developing an underwater wireless network that will make deep sea communication possible.

The University at Buffalo researchers are developing a deep sea computing network that will help in improving the way tsunamis are detected and also will monitor pollution and aid in conducting surveillance.

Nowadays, one can avail free Wi Fi services at almost every corner. The only place you cannot find this service is underwater. But a team of scientists is targeting the deep oceans and developing a technique to wirelessly transmit the Internet there.

The major problem for wireless Internet underwater is the radio waves, which are used in mobile devices and cell phones. The problem is in converting the 1s and 0s of the computer binary codes into radio waves. Through water these radio waves travel poorly, especially at the frequency the Internet requires, notes UCBS's ScienceLine. Low frequency radio waves between 3-30 kilohertz are used by submarine communication systems. To store large data, the internet radio waves have to transmit frequencies of 2.4 gigahertz -5  gigahertz.

The robotic vehicle sent underwater to study the Titanic wreckage is a good example of limitations of underwater communication. The cables used are very expensive and heavy, and they limit the movement of the robot.

Hence, the University at Buffalo researchers are developing a deep sea internet that will improve offshore oil and natural gas exploration, pollution monitoring, tsunami detection and many other services.

"A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data from our oceans in real time," Tommaso Melodia, UB associate professor of electrical engineering and the project's lead researcher, said in a press statement. "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."

Melodia and his students tested the system in Lake Erie. After dropping the 40 pound sensors into the waters they typed a command into a laptop and seconds later they noticed a series of high pitched chirps skipping off a nearby concrete wall. This was an indication that the test worked.

This could be useful for the energy industry as they typically rely on seismic waves to hunt for underwater oil and natural gas.

"We could even use it to monitor fish and marine mammals, and find out how to best protect them from shipping traffic and other dangers," Melodia said. "An Internet underwater has so many possibilities."

The paper, "The Internet Underwater: An IP-compatible Protocol Stack for Commercial Undersea Modems," will be presented at the 8th annual International Conference on Underwater Networks & Systems.

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