A team of researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has developed two-way wireless data connection for underwater useReliable wireless data connections are generally taken for granted in our daily lives, from cellular to home Wi-Fi networks, but it’s actually extremely difficult to create high-speed wireless connections in an environment such as water. It can be very valuable to maintenance of underwater data centers connected to terrestrial network infrastructure.
KUAST researchers have solved this problem using simple off-the-shelf components, including the Raspberry Pi acting as a modem. They also created it so that it is compatible with existing 802.11 wireless standards so that it can easily connect to the wide global Internet to ensure consistent and reliable connections.
The Raspberry Pi provides the computing need for converting a standard wireless signal into a signal that can be transmitted optically through a laser. The signal travels through the air to a buoy on the surface of the ocean, where Pi then converts and transmits information through blue and green lasers, which then direct it down to an optical receiver located underwater with a maximum practical transmission rate of 2.11 Mbps at a distance 20 meters (about 66 feet).
The research team managed to use their system to make Skype calls and move files back and forth, but they also burned the Raspberry Pi using lasers that exceeded its capabilities. According to them, this can be confirmed by replacing a special optical modem. The big problem that exists when using this so-called Aqua-Fi network technology is the optical change that can occur under water due to currents and water movement.
To overcome these limitations, the team is considering several options, including a two-laser system, in which a low-power system finds a way to chart a course for a more powerful data connection and can re-orient if the connection fails. They can also expand the receiver with an array of several receivers – just like MIMO antennas work on modern network equipment.