NATO Adopts New Protocol Standard for Underwater Communications

Underwater transmission protocols may finally be unified as NATO adopts a new standard, JANUS. NATO announced recently that it’s adopting a standard protocol for underseas communication. What’s JANUS and how does undersea communication differ from in-air data transmission? Thanks to standardized communication protocols, devices can communicate effectively. Wi-Fi, 4G, and Li-Fi are all examples of protocols that allow for reliable data transmission, enabling the growth of the mobile industry and the ubiquitous Internet of Things. The intersection of the electronics industry and maritime industry—an intersection that includes buoys, submarines, and other autonomous underwater devices—heavily relies on wireless communication. This is partly because of the vastness of our oceans and the untethered nature of most seacraft. For example, a submersible craft that needs to map the bottom of a trench in the ocean at a depth of 8km and then explore crevices and caves cannot reliably use a cable. In this scenario, wireless communication would be ideal as it would allow for complete freedom of movement and would not require the host (a ship for example) to carry 10km of cable. However, there is a serious problem with traditional wireless communication technologies: they rely on electromagnetic waves to transmit data. We tend to take for-granted that electromagnetic radiation does very well in the atmosphere (primarily due to the fact that air is mostly empty space) and, as a result, we can get radio signals to travel great distances with decent reliability. For a matter of perspective, the ESP8266 module can transmit a Wi-Fi signal up to 5km (with the aid of a telescopic antenna) while traditional radio stations can broadcast their signals up to 50 miles. The radio equipment current aboard the Voyager 1 and 2 probes are transmitting their data over a distance larger than the size of the solar system! So if EM waves can travel such distances, why can they not be used for underwater communication?”

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