The Internet of Things (IoT) is constantly changing our lives by unleashing an era of absolute connectivity in the world; our devices, homes, cars, gadgets, offices, buildings, roads, are becoming increasingly connected within each other one at a time and all at once.
After almost two decades of astonishing IoT breakthroughs and milestones, now it is the time to think about connecting the remaining three quarters of our planet, that is made up of oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams.
The Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT) is the application of IoT on the world’s water bodies. This application theoretically aims to create a worldwide network of smart interconnected underwater objects to digitally link between the world’s water and terrestrial bodies. Today, IoUT is regarded as one of the potential technologies toward developing smart cities.
The concept of IoUT first rose to the surface in 2012, and was proposed as a solution for real-time environmental monitoring, marine exploration, and disaster prevention, but now it could also be used to unlock new fields of underwater sports and tourism.
For example, such application could enable a system of autonomous underwater vehicles communicating with each other, collecting data, and transmitting to control centers above the surface at regular internet speeds, bringing the ability to sense, actuate, and exchange information.
However, the established concepts of IoT have only been successful on land, and cannot be applied to underwater environments where conditions are very different.
To name a few challenges, signal transmission and signal interference underwater are one of the first problems that scientists and engineers must overcome in order to tread in the underwater internet world.
The SUNRISE project is one of the first initiatives that aim to tackle these problems. The EU-sponsored project has developed and tested robots that communicate by mimicking marine animals, i.e. using acoustic signals but at reduced power and wave frequencies that do not interfere with the animals.
The team of international researchers and scientists working on the project has demonstrated that underwater drones can communicate and respond to simple instructions and transmit data in real-time, using an Esperanto-like language called Janus.
While the IoUT is still largely in the research and development phase, there is no doubt that opening up the world of underwater to the limitless possibilities of IoT will be another milestone of mankind.