University of Buffalo researchers Zahed Hossain and Hovannes Kulhandjian have tested an “underwater wi-fi” network in Lake Erie last month, constituted by two wireless internet modems with an aquatic version of TCP/IP. By dropping these 40lb (18 kg) sensors into the lake, they used sound waves instead of the traditional radio waves (the normal wi-fi) to propagate through water – a smart move, since sound waves have more range, stability and velocity. Hossain and Kulhandjian, afloat, used a laptop to transmit information to the modems.
Tommaso Melodia, leading researcher on this study has some usage ideas in mind: “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 goal is to create a seafloor wireless network, accessible through the Internet, that communicates directly and in real time with people around the world by using cheaper undersea sensors.