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Making Deep-Sea Communication Possible: Scientists Create Underwater Wireless Internet

Tech-savvy researchers look to conquer the vast depths of oceans with their newly developed underwater wireless internet, making “deep-sea” communication possible.

There are probably only a few places left on Earth where a user’s phone or laptop is not bound to catch a wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) signal. The deep underwater is one such place.  The most likely reason is because water poses as a problem for such signals. The 0 and 1 computer binary code, which is employed by all devices ranging from walkie-talkies, cell phones and other mobile devices cannot be converted into radio waves in water. UCSB’s ScienceLine noted that radio waves transmit poorly through water and the frequency the Internet needs makes it all the more impossible.  Submarine communication systems use very low radio wave frequency, ranging between and 30 kilohertz. However, for the internet to work, a minimum of 2.4 gigahertz or 5 gigahertz radio wave frequency is required.

The sinking of the Titanic is a good example of the limitations of underwater communication. The robotic vehicle sent down to explore the wreckage of the ship needed to be connected with very heavy and expensive cables to a boat that lay 2.4 km away from it.

A team of University at Buffalo researchers have been working on ways to deal with this problem and have successfully developed an underwater wireless internet that will enable “deep-sea communication.” They recently tested the wireless system in Lake Erie, just south of downtown Buffalo, N.Y. Two 40-pound sensors were submerged into the lake. Using a laptop, researchers were able to successfully communicate with the sensors.

Current underwater communication systems used by the Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rely heavily on sound waves.

Unfortunately, users looking to use this technology to dive and shop in the Amazon River will be left disappointed as researchers reveal they have more “responsible” plans for it. This new deep-water computing system can help researchers detect tsunamis in a better and more efficient manner. It can also help in 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,” Tommaso Melodia, a University of Buffalo associate professor of electrical engineering and the project’s lead researcher, said in a press release on the university’s website. “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.”

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