Home Science Scientists bring wireless internet underwater for the first time using 'Aqui-fi'

Scientists bring wireless internet underwater for the first time using 'Aqui-fi'

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Scientists bring wireless internet underwater for the first time after testing a ‘gateway’ device that uses LASERS to transmit data to the surface

  • Scientists built a system that acts like a WiFi booster for deep-sea divers
  • Radio waves transmit data to a Raspberry Pi attached to the diver’s gear
  • Lasers or LEDs send the data to a computer above that is powered by a satellite
  • The computer then translates the data into live images and video footage 

The internet has connected tens of billions of devices across the globe, but has yet to bring the web underwater – until now.

Scientists have built a system that acts like a WiFi booster for deep-sea divers, allowing them to share real-time images and footage to computers on the surface. 

Called ‘Aqu-fi,’ the technology uses radio waves to transmit data from the diver’s smartphone to a Raspberry Pi attached to their underwater gear.

LEDs, or laser beams, then sends the data to a computer on the surface that translates it into pictures or videos. 

Researchers say their system is capable of ‘uploading and downloading multimedia between two computers set a few feet apart in static water,’ with data transfers at 2.11 megabytes per second.

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Scientists have built a system that acts like a WiFi booster for deep-sea divers, allowing them to share real-time images and footage to computers on the surface

Scientists have built a system that acts like a WiFi booster for deep-sea divers, allowing them to share real-time images and footage to computers on the surface

Basem Shihada with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, said: ‘People from both academia and industry want to monitor and explore underwater environments in detail.’

Now he and his team have developed a system that does just that.

Aqua-Fi supports internet services, such as sending multimedia messages, using either LEDs or lasers. 

The technology uses radio waves to transmit data from the diver’s smartphone to a Raspberry Pi computer attached to their underwater gear.

Called'Aqu-fi,' the technology uses radio waves to transmit data from the diver's smartphone to a Raspberry Pi attached to their underwater gear. LEDs, or laser beams, then sends the data to a computer on the surface that translates it into pictures or videos

Called ‘Aqu-fi,’ the technology uses radio waves to transmit data from the diver’s smartphone to a Raspberry Pi attached to their underwater gear. LEDs, or laser beams, then sends the data to a computer on the surface that translates it into pictures or videos

Similar to a booster that increases the WiFi range of a home internet router, Aqua-Fi sends the data using a light beam to a computer at the surface that is connected to the internet via satellite. 

The computer converts photos and videos into a series of 1s and 0s, which are translated into light beams turning on and off at very high speeds. 

The team tested the system by uploading and downloading content between two computers  a few feet apart in static water.

They hit a maximum data transfer speed of 2.11 megabytes per second and an average delay of 1.00 millisecond for a round trip. 

‘This is the first time anyone has used the internet underwater completely wirelessly,’ said Shihada.

Aqua-Fi will not be available until the researchers overcome several obstacles, but it will allow divers to send images and videos of their discoveries to the surface in real-time

Aqua-Fi will not be available until the researchers overcome several obstacles, but it will allow divers to send images and videos of their discoveries to the surface in real-time 

‘We hope to improve the link quality and the transmission range with faster electronic components.’ 

The researchers note that the light beam must stay aligned with the receiver in moving water and have thought of designing a spherical device capable of capturing light from all angles.

‘We have created a relatively cheap and flexible way to connect underwater environments to the global internet,’ said Shihada. 

‘We hope that one day, Aqua-Fi will be as widely used underwater as WiFi is above water.’

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