Researchers Developing Deep-Sea WifiBy: Mike Fossum - October 18, 2013
Researchers at the University of Buffalo are developing an underwater wifi network for use at sea. Alas, hold your horses – This doesn’t mean there will be any Snapchatting, Instagramming, Facebookery, Tweeting, Vining, Myspacing, Google Plussing, Tumbing, Flickring, Foursquaring, Goodreading, Pinning or Yelping underwater any time soon. The program is intended for more practical uses, like monitoring ocean life and for helping to give advance warning of tsunamis.
Project lead Tommaso Melodia, an associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Buffalo, said in a statement, “A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze 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.”
Since radio waves don’t travel effectively underwater, a simple dropping of a few waterproofed 4G hotspots into the sea won’t create a network. Melodia and his team turned to sound waves to create a wireless signal.
With funding from the National Science Foundation, two 40-pound sensors were attached to a buoy and submerged in lake Erie. The sensors were then able to detect a series of high-pitched chirps, which bounced off a nearby concrete wall. These sound waves were then converted into radio waves.
Medodia commented, “An Internet underwater has so many possibilities,” adding, “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.”
NASA had established internet in space in 2010, allowing astronauts to surf the ‘net via the Crew Support LAN. This is the official first space-tweet:
Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station — the 1st live tweet from Space! More soon, send your ?s
— TJ Creamer (@Astro_TJ) January 22, 2010
While there’s a chance the first oceanic tweet might have something to do with spring break, the practical applications of the new network are highly valuable.
Image via The University of Buffalo.