University at Buffalo researchers are working on a deep-sea Internet that could lead to improvements in tsunami detection, offshore oil and natural gas exploration, surveillance, pollution monitoring, and other activities.
“A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data from our oceans in real time,” said Tommaso Melodia, Project lead and associate 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.”
According to professor Radio waves work poorly underwater. This is why agencies like Navy use sound wave-based techniques to communicate underwater. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration relies on sound waves to send data from tsunami sensors on the sea floor where with the help of sensors they are converted into radio waves to send the data to a satellite, which then redirects the radio waves back monitoring stations at earth. Most of the worldwide systems relied upon this technique but because of different technical standards, its difficult to share data between them.
The framework this team is developing would solve that problem. The data will be transferred from deep sea sensor networks to laptops, smartphones and other wireless devices in real time, and enables support for a traditional TCP/IP protocol. The team has tested the system at Lake Erie, near Buffalo. With the help of two 40lb (18kg) sensors underwater the team was able to use a laptop to transmit information to them.
The team hopes the deep sea internet could be used to help detect and solve environmental issues in near future. More details of the team’s work will be presented at a conference for underwater networking to be held in Taiwan next month.