Researchers have tested an “underwater Wi-Fi” network in a lake in an attempt to make a “deep-sea internet”.
The team, from the University of Buffalo, New York, said the technology could help detect tsunamis, offering more reliable warning systems. They aim to create an agreed standard for underwater communications, to make interaction and data-sharing easier.
Unlike normal Wi-Fi, which uses radio waves, the submerged network technology utilises sound waves. Radio waves are able to penetrate water, but with severely limited range and stability. Sound waves provide a better option – as demonstrated by many aquatic species such as whales and dolphins.
Tommaso Melodia, lead researcher, said “A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyse data from our oceans in real time 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.” The test was carried out at Lake Erie, near Buffalo. The research team dropped two 40lb (18kg) sensors into the water – and were then able to use a laptop to transmit information to them.
In future, the team hopes the sensors could be used to help detect and solve environmental issues. With a shared standard, different research groups with varied equipment could potentially combine their data gathering efforts with greater ease, and in real-time.
More details of the team’s work will be presented at a conference for underwater networking to be held in Taiwan next month.