In today’s day in age, communicating with people on the other side of the world is as easy as ever. Well, as long as they aren’t underwater of course.
Radio signals help us to communicate wirelessly on land, however submarines and other subsurface crafts must use sonar signals. Radio signals don’t travel that far underwater, and sonar signals doesn’t usually break through the ocean surface.
Essentially, they speak two different languages. For this very reason, the way best way submarines to communicate with the outside world is to start speaking the same language as radio signals.
Researchers at MIT believe that they’ve in fact found a way to do this, with a system called translational acoustic. They plan to present their findings at the Special Interest Group on Data Communication’s yearly conference.
The research team created an underwater transmitter that uses a standard acoustic speaker to send sonar signals directly upwards, which cause small vibrations on the surface of the water that represent 0s and 1s.
They then built a radar that is highly sensitive and capable of both reading and decoding these minuscule vibrations. It works by transmitting a radio signal towards the surface of the water, which bounces off the vibrating surface and then rebounds back to the radar.
The system still needs to be tested in rougher waters at greater heights and depths, but if it’s proven to be successful it could change the way underwater and airborne communication works as we know it.