Aquafi : Underwater WiFi or Aquatic Internet

Data Communication

High-speed internet communication via WiFi is no more a luxury but the very basic necessity of everyone everywhere. The tons of millions of devices are connected with each other processing trillions TBs of data every day. The world is live with 4G and fast-moving towards a new era of fastest ever internet communication tool called 5G. The early-stage experiments have already been completed and the world is waiting for the full-scale commercial launch that is, unfortunately, has been surrounded by vague conspiracy theories.

Underwater Communication

The Scuba divers and underwater explorers and researchers surely needing a fast communication tool to instantly deliver live footage from underwater to surface.  

Radio, acoustic, and visible light signals, presently are the tools used for data transfer from underwater to surface. Radio signals can transmit data to over short distances and acoustic signals are valid for log range. In both cases, the data rate remains dismally low. Visible light can cover a long distance transmitting a load of data but having a limitation of a clear line of sight between both the transmitter and receiver.  

The Aqua-Fi initiative

Now a team at KAUST, lead 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 whereas the laser can carry a big volume consuming a heavy load of power.

How it Works

The radio waves will be used by the Aqua-Fi for sending data from the smartphone 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 millisecond 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 focal issues. 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 into perfection. The time now is not far away when the Aqua-fi will seamlessly work as like as normal wifi signals.

Umar Hayat
  • Umar Hayat
  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textile, and teaching in business administration.