A crew of researchers at work in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have developed a mutual wireless data linking for use underwater. Robust wireless data connections are mostly taken for granted in our day-to-day lives, from cell amenity to home WIFI networks, but it’s actually enormously challenging to create high-speed wireless connections in a liquid medium like water. It could be very valuable for keeping underwater data centers connected with surface network set-up.
KUAST’s scholars come up to the challenge using unpretentious, readily available standard components, including a Raspberry Pi that acts as the Modulator Demodulator. They also built it to be compatible with existing 802.11 wireless standards, so that it can effortlessly connect into the bigger global cyberspace for constant and reliable connections.
The Raspberry Pi offers the compute need to translate the standard wireless signal into one that can be conveyed optically via laser. The signal comes in over the air to a buoy at the ocean’s surface, where the Pi then does the conversion and transmits the information via blue and green lasers, which then grin it down to an optical receiver located underwater, with a max practical transfer speed of 2.11 Mbps across a distance of 20 meters (around 66 feet).
The research team managed to use their structure to do Skype calls and move files back and forth – but they also scorched out the Raspberry Pi using lasers that stunned its capabilities. “This could be shored up by swapping in a dedicated optical modem”, they said. A much bigger problem that exists when using this so-called Aqua-Fi networking tech is dealing with the optical dissimilarity that can come up due to underwater currents and water movement.
To overcome those boundaries, the team is considering a number of options, including a two-laser system in which a low-powered one does way finding to plot the course for the more powerful data connection, and can readjust orientation if a connection fails. They could also broaden the receiver with an array of multiple receivers – similar to how MIMO antenna arrays work on modern networking hardware.