Temp Expert: Undersea Wireless Research

Found this really interesting article about how some students in Buffalo are developing a way to communicate wireless underwater. At the moment, most research institutes still use sound waves and radio signals.

“The reason for developing underwater wireless Internet isn’t so you can scuba dive and shop Amazon at the same time. Researchers hope that by improving underwater communication, they can make improvements in tsunami detection, pollution monitoring and offshore oil and natural gas exploration.”

From another article on their research:

“Land-based wireless networks rely on radio waves that transmit data via satellites and antennae. Unfortunately, radio waves work poorly underwater. This is why agencies like the Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration use sound wave-based techniques to communicate underwater.”

Creating a undersea wireless network would improve current abilities to share data amongst different systems since currently each has a different infrastructure. Also, can use existing and planned underwater sensors to transmit data to laptops, smartphones and other wireless devices in real time.

So, glad that I came across this research because I could possibly find out about some cutting edge wireless research. I emailed Dr. Melodia and he said to contact him again in a week when he gets done with his travels. Turns out he’s actually at Northeastern, which is where my friend who studies coral is researching!

I also started reading about undersea animal communication. One of the most relevant take aways is that a noisy coral reef is a healthy coral reef. Couldn’t find info on whether or not certain frequencies are used for communication amongst coral or if certain frequencies affect them.

Cool video on coral reef noise:

sounds of healthy vs. unhealthy reefs:

“Coral reefs are amongst the noisiest environments on our planet and healthy reefs can be heard using underwater microphones from kilometres away.”

Turns out that researchers at University of Exeter and University of Essex are doing a lot of research into the sounds of healthy vs unhealthy coral reefs.

From this article:

Dr Steve Simpson, from Biosciences at the University of Exeter, added: “Taking sound recordings is a cheap, fast and objective way to get a broad idea of whether a reef is in a good condition or not. While it cannot replace detailed visual surveys conducted by snorkelers or divers, it gives a good account of the cryptic and nocturnal species missed in visual census, and quickly provides a general picture of the state of coral reefs without requiring time-consuming surveys and extensive training.”

So, recording (and ideally, streaming) audio would be a way to monitor coral health and share this information with the average person. Now, I wonder if I would just keep the noise as is or try and translate it into a different sound or even a different output.

In any case, it sounds like scientists are very interested in developing tools related to reef health and acoustics.


Talk to my friend Dhruv about the basics of radio transmissions and he gave me tips on using a transceiver/receiver. Apparently transceivers are quite expensive (~$300), but he has access to one as does Benedetta. He also said I should email Oliver from Genspace and see what he thinks.

I emailed my friend at Northeastern again and asked her about what kinds of physical changes could be measured and what tools they already us to monitor.

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11. April 2016 by zoe.bachman.itp
Categories: Temporary Expert | Tags: , , , | 1 comment

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