Aquafi – Underwater WiFi or Aquatic Internet
High-speed internet communication via WiFi is no more a luxury but a very basic necessity for everyone everywhere. The tons of millions of devices are connected with each other processing trillions of TBs of data every day. The world is live with 4G and fast-moving towards a next-generation 5G, the fastest ever internet communication. The early-stage experiments are successful to some extent. The world is now waiting for the full-scale commercial launch that is, unfortunately, surrounded by vague conspiracy theories. Aquafi – underwater wifi or aquatic internet is a recent breakthrough to provide underwater internet facilities.
The technology will prove a blessing for scuba divers and underwater explorers and researchers. They surely need a fast communication tool to instantly deliver live footage from underwater to the surface.
Radio, acoustic, and visible light signals, presently are the tools for data transfer from underwater to the surface. Radio signals can transmit data over short distances and acoustic signals are valid for long ranges. In both cases, the data rate remains dismally low. Visible light can cover a long distance transmitting a load of data. It has a limitation of a clear line of sight between both the transmitter and receiver.
The Aqua-Fi initiative
Now a team at KAUST, led by Shahida has built an underwater wireless system named Aqua-Fi. The system supports volume internet communication using LED or laser light streams. The LED is a known low-cost solution to travel to a limited distance. The laser however can carry a big volume consuming a heavy load of power.
How it Works
Aqua-Fi will use the radio waves for sending data from the smartphone of a Scuba diver to the “gateway” device attached to his gear. The gateway will then transmit the data to a satellite internet-enabled computer at the surface, via a light beam.
A green LED or a 520-nanometer laser is used for Aqua-Fi for sending data from a small simple computer to a light detector that is attached to another computer. The first computer converts visual data like photos and videos into a series of 1s and os. These are translated into light beams turning on &off at a very high speed. The light detector sensing the variation turns it back into 1s and 0s. The receiving computer then converts the signals back into the actual footage.
The system has been tested by the researchers by simultaneously uploading and downloading multimedia between two computers set a few meters distance in static water. The maximum data transfer speed of 2.11 megabytes per second has been recorded at an average delay of 1.00 milliseconds for a round trip.
The Future of Aqua-Fi
This research surely is at an early stage. The researchers and internet communication scientists need to do a lot more to refine the system. The link quality transmission range is a focal issue. The light beam being the central component needs to be perfectly aligned with the receiver in moving even in turbulent waters.
Like every other invention, the idea has been tested and many now will contribute to taking the concept to perfection. The time now is not far away when Aqua-fi will seamlessly work as normal wifi signals.