Underwater wi-fi? Project aims to speed up vital communications networks

A team of UB electrical engineering students is out on Lake Erie as part of a project to develop hardware and software tools to help underwater telecommunication catch up to its over-the-air counterpart.

They are part of a research team led by Dimitrios Pados, Clifford C. Furnas Professor of Electrical Engineering, to develop hardware and software—everything from modems that work underwater to open-architecture protocols—to improve underwater sensing networks. Of particular interest is merging a relatively new communication platform, software-defined radio, with underwater acoustic modems.

The Lake Erie experiments proved that the new modems could boost data transmission rates by 10 times over today’s commercial underwater modems.

Potential applications include monitoring pollution, walkie-talkies for scuba divers, and search and rescue work.

The research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.