DTI grant to develop underwater radio

A Scottish consortium is developing technology which is set to ‘revolutionise’ underwater wireless communications, with £560,000 funding from the Department of Trade and Industry-led Technology Programme.


A Scottish consortium is developing technology which is set to ‘revolutionise’ underwater wireless communications, with £560,000 funding from the Department of Trade and Industry led Technology Programme.



Wireless Fibre Systems, will lead a £1.1m, two-year research project consortium with Aberdeen-based Tritech International and Insensys, to develop the wireless equipment which will be employed in oceanographic and environmental monitoring and increasing safety through improved communications for oil and gas industry workers.



The ‘underwater radio’ works like a wireless modem and can be used to transmit data to and from unmanned machinery in deep sea and also help divers to ‘talk’ underwater, where previously only hand signals were possible.



Speaking in Aberdeen, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Alistair Darling, said: ‘This is cutting edge technology and that’s why we’re backing it. We know that innovation and technology will be the key ways for Britain to maintain its place as a world leading economy. This project demonstrates an opportunity to help establish British industry at the forefront of this field.’



The company has already created the world’s first production standard underwater frequency modem, which was launched last September. The key aim of this project is to develop a number of leading edge products that incorporate underwater radio technology.



Brendan Hyland, Chairman of lead partner Wireless Fibre Systems commented,


‘We are delighted our Consortium has received this grant; it offers us an exciting opportunity to extend the UK’s global lead in wireless underwater communications. Over the next two years we will develop and launch a number of disruptive subsea RF products that will enhance communications, control, networking and safety.


‘Previously, wireless communications have relied mainly on acoustic techniques which are slow, affected by outside noise and cannot penetrate the water or air. This technology makes data transfer and communications clearer and quicker.’