Recently at Oceanology International, Sonardyne International Ltd (Stand G300) announced the creation of a new joint venture company with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The spinout company, called Lumasys, is to launch the first commercially available subsea optical communication system, BlueComm.
The two organisations are working in collaboration to bring BlueComm to market. This unique wireless communications technology promises to enable subsea data to be transferred at speeds equivalent to broadband.
Optical communications can be used to provide ultra high data rates in typical deep water environments where there is little or no ambient light and turbidity is minimal. It is best suited to applications where significant user bandwidth is required or high levels of ambient noise preclude the use of traditional acoustic technologies.
This emerging technology uses high power light emitting diodes as the transmitter with a receiver based on photomultiplier technology that is so sensitive it can detect light energy at the level of a few photons.
BlueComm operates over short ranges of a few tens or even hundreds of metres with data transfer rates of up to 10-to-20 megabits per second to be achieved. It therefore provides an excellent complement to Sonardyne’s traditional long range but lower data rate acoustic communications technologies.
Lumasys Inc. will be based in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and will combine first stage funding and engineering support from Sonardyne with the transfer of IP and technical expertise from WHOI.
Norman Farr, Senior Engineer at WHOI who led the BlueComm research team said, “Partnering with Sonardyne gives us access to a highly successful and well established worldwide marketing and manufacturing infrastructure as well as a very experienced commercial approach which will allow us to collectively bring this revolutionary technology to market as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Simon Partridge, Engineering Director of Sonardyne added, “Over the last four decades, Sonardyne has developed an unrivalled portfolio of acoustic wireless communications technologies and systems for use in challenging environments. Adding optical communications to our capabilities will provide users with the best of both worlds; a high data rate uplink coupled with low data rate, robust command and control. This advance will allow for the extraction of large amounts of data from subsea sensors in a fast and energy efficient manner, or the transmission of camera imagery and real time video.”
Subsea World News Staff , March 20, 2012; Image: Sonardyne