Connecting to an Underwater Internet

Internet protocols for deep sea use could save lives

deepsea, internet, sensors, ocean, internet, network, buffalo, informationWeb surfing on the ocean isn’t as easy as it sounds.  The Internet on land doesn’t connect to the vast array of sensors scattered across the ocean.  A team from the University of Buffalo is trying to connect the land and sea networks so that they can surface important data: data that could help predict tsunamis or track oil spills.

The Internet is backed by standard protocols allowing information to be transferred between distant servers with very little friction. The same is true for the network of US Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sensors scattered across the oceans. However, the land-based and ocean-based protocols can’t communicate with one another.

University of Buffalo researchers are building protocols that will, “transmit data from existing and planned underwater sensor networks to laptops, smartphones and other wireless devices in real time.”

In a recent test, two underwater sensors sent and received signals that could be picked up by a laptop cruising on a boat above.  

Buffalo researchers believe their protocols could become the ground work upon which an underwater internet could be built.

“A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data from our oceans in real time,” said Tommaso Melodia, an electrical engineer at the University of Buffalo. “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.”

Beyond monitoring the ocean for tsunamis, an underwater internet could prove useful in monitoring oilspills, tracking fishery populations, and gaining a better understanding of how oceans effect climate change.

Images Courtesy of University of Buffalo