Networked buoy connects diver’s mobile device

Technology enables fast, robust data link to a diver and utilizes common smartphone or tablet platforms


Underwater work takes many forms including welding, archeology, pipeline maintenance, cable repair to name only a few. Each of these has their land-based equivalent but one glaring difference is how workers communicate in these two environments. If a worker on land needs a tool they quickly fetch it themselves or call for it. Not so, underwater.

Current methods used by workers to communicate with those above in order to request tools and supplies, consult, or report status include the use of terrestrial devices and cables encased in shrink wrap. Waterproofing cables by using heat shrink is not an effective means to prevent water intrusion long term. Additionally, heat shrink makes the cables unable to bend and flex, which is necessary in a dynamic environment such as the ocean. Cables used to try to enable devices to work underwater are used to dive once, but then the cable must be dried sometimes for days before being used again.

Navy scientists have developed a better solution for communicating between diver and surface. The system includes a surface buoy with a wireless connection to a terrestrial or ship-based network. The buoy supports an ethernet cable extending to the diver. At the end of the cable is a tablet in a waterproof case that allows full functionality of the screen via finger touch or stylus at any depth.

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