Underwater internet in the works

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Fish will soon be posting #swimming on Twitter, while sharks will be posting “selfies” on Instagram thanks to an underwater Wi-Fi network being developed by researchers at New York’s University of Buffalo.

While it is easy to make light of the situation, the network’s objectives are quite serious: enhancing tsunami detection, tracking pollution levels in the ocean, and oil and natural gas exploration.

“A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyse data from our oceans in real time,” explained Tommaso Melodia, the “deep-sea” internet’s proponent and a professor of electrical engineering.

“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,” he added.

Unlike land-based networks, the underwater Wi-Fi will utilise sound waves to transmit signals because radio waves do not work well in the depths of the ocean.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) depends on acoustic waves to send information from underwater tsunami sensors to floating buoys. These buoys transform the acoustic waves into radio waves so that they can be transmitted to a satellite, which then diverts the information to land-based computers.

However, this process is tedious as each system has varying infrastructure. Melodia’s underwater network aims to solve this issue. The network was successfully tested in Lake Erie recently.

An underwater Wi-Fi network also offers a multitude of possibilities such as the protection of endangered sea creatures, he added.


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