A clearer future for underwater exploration

May 15, 2018, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

A new system that simultaneously transmits ultrahigh-definition live video and receives feedback signals offers greatly improved underwater optical communications.

The oceans provide an abundance of natural resources, from food and medicines to energy resources. The deep oceans are largely unexplored yet hold the potential for new resources to support the world's burgeoning population.

Protecting existing resources and discovering new ones requires technologies capable of effectively monitoring and exploring the underwater environment. Exploration is traditionally undertaken by remotely operated vehicles (ROV), but even the most advanced ROVs have limited maneuverability and are tethered to ships, thus risking damage to coral reefs and pipelines.

Now, Ph.D student Abdullah Al-Halafi and his supervisor Basem Shihada have developed an underwater wireless optical communication (UWOC) system that transmits ultrahigh-definition, real-time , while simultaneously receiving feedback signals for improving the quality of the video and controlling the movement of the vehicle.

"The challenge is to design that are equipped with wireless technologies able to transmit high-quality live video, combined with sensing capabilities and robotic intelligence capable of mimicking human intuition and mobility," says Al-Halafi.

Rising to the challenge, the researchers have demonstrated a bidirectional UWOC system that uses a downlink channel to transmit ultrahigh-definition live video, integrated with an uplink channel that provides feedback on the conditions of the communications channel and that can also send control commands to manoeuvre the vehicle.

By providing updates on the conditions of communication channels, the transmitter is able to adapt the power and modulation of the video signal to the conditions of the . For instance, if the visibility is good, more video packets can be transmitted at faster rates: but if the water clarity deteriorates, the video transmission is slowed down, maintaining .

"The end user will not experience any difference in video quality as the system delivers video packets with the same definition, but at optimized power and transmission rates," says Al-Halafi.

The system design is both cost effective and energy efficient, and it provides the highest video resolution and transfer rates so far demonstrated for an UWOC system.

"Our technology paves the way for transmission of real-time video with very high quality in underwater environments, and is expected to attract considerable interest in both academia and industry," says Shihada.

Explore further: Underwater wireless optical communications system for streaming high quality, live video

More information: Abdullah Al-Halafi et al. UHD Video Transmission Over Bidirectional Underwater Wireless Optical Communication, IEEE Photonics Journal (2018). DOI: 10.1109/JPHOT.2018.2821695

Related Stories

Marine exploration sensing with light and sound

March 13, 2018

Oceanic sensor networks that collect and transmit high-quality, real-time data could transform the understanding of marine ecology, improve pollution and disaster management, and inform multiple industries that draw on ocean ...

Integrated high-speed data and wireless power transfer

September 18, 2017

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a system that can simultaneously deliver watts of power and transmit data at rates high enough to stream video over the same wireless connection. By integrating ...

Recommended for you

Tiny lasers light up immune cells

November 20, 2018

A team of researchers from the School of Physics at the University of St Andrews have developed tiny lasers that could revolutionise our understanding and treatment of many diseases, including cancer.

The subtle science of wok tossing

November 19, 2018

Wok tossing is essential for making a good fried rice—or so claim a group of researchers presenting new work at the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics 71st Annual Meeting, which will take place Nov. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.