Let's develop high-speed deep sea Wi-Fi

Credit: Bob Dobolina

The world's oceans are a vast, untapped information reservoir. That, or something very much like it, was the impetus behind a recent study undertaken at the University at Buffalo, New York. There, associate professor of electrical engineering Tommaso Melodia has surmised that much of the world needs to know, in real time, what's going on upon the sea floor.

Strange as it sounds, he's not entirely wrong. In the event of tsunamis, for instance, sensors upon the sea floor capable of sending signals directly to those in the disaster's path would add precious seconds to response times. Melodia envisions submarine Wi-Fi devices capable of sending emergency alerts straight to smartphones and laptops, but his plans don't end there.

Currently, deep sea sensors are tethered to floating wireless relays which communicate to satellites which then convey data back to the ground. That's a lot of different systems working together just to accomplish a simple task. To improve upon this, Melodia has developed submersible sensors which can communicate directly with Wi-Fi-enabled devices using audio signals transmitted through the water. He's calling these sensors "telesonar modems" and they've already passed their first underwater test.

Recently, two of Melodia's team members, grad students Hovannes Kulhandjian and Zahed Hossain, dropped a pair of telesonar modems into the waters of Lake Erie and sent them a signal. A few seconds later a series of high-pitched chirps bounced off of a concrete wall beside the students' boat, completing the test successfully.

Whether or not the deep sea Internet will become an integral part of our lives is something best decided by its future users, but we can already imagine underwater hotels with Wi-Fi and sea creatures with their own Instagram accounts popping up once the technology takes off.

University at Buffalo, via Phys.org

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