A team of scientists at the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane Division has invented a novel device that allows divers to have full access to their smartphones while underwater. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would manufacture and sell the device.
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 for 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.
The Navy’s new 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.
- Enables high-speed and content-rich communications between diver and surface support team
- Surface buoy makes little to no noise or splash, is hard to see, provides insignificant drag to the diver, and is retrofitted to provide continual connectivity with the communications systems
- Businesses can commercialize the technology by licensing U.S. Patent 10,414,476 from the Navy
- License fees are negotiable
- Businesses that license the technology have the opportunity to pursue collaborative research with the inventor
- TRL 9: Prototypes have been built and field tested