Data sharing
High Tech Industry

Underwater data communication via acoustics

In cooperation with

Dutch Ministry of Defence, InnoSportLab, Tongelreep, and specialist companies

The 4G, 5G, WiFi and Bluetooth technologies that enable high-speed wireless data communication both indoors and outdoors on land are practically worthless underwater. Yet there is growing demand for reliable wireless communication underwater. For decades, TNO has specialised in a promising alternative that uses acoustic waves to transmit signals: a sort of underwater WiFi for long distances and underwater Bluetooth for short-range connectivity.

Safety and performance

TNO has been conducting research on underwater acoustics for some time, for clients such as the Royal Netherlands Navy and projects such as the construction of offshore wind parks in order to lessen the adverse consequences for marine mammals.

Recent acoustic projects have focused on the safety of swimmers and divers and improving athletic performance in the water. Together with interested parties such as the Diving and Underwater Explosives Group of the Dutch Ministry of Defence, the InnoSportLab de Tongelreep swimming performance laboratory in Eindhoven and specialist companies, TNO is developing new applications for underwater communication.

Successful tests

A new generation of wearables have been successfully tested in the Pieter van den Hoogenband research pool in Eindhoven. These small devices attached to a swimmer’s skin send metrics such as heart rate, stroke rate, swimming stroke and swimming speed to a receiver at the bottom of the pool.

These tests were conducted as part of the EU-funded project SILENSE, with partners such as the Holst Centre, foreign research centres and companies. The devices were attached to the chest, wrists and ankles.

Basis for new standards

As yet there are no standards for this form of short-range data communication and there are various technical hurdles that still need to be resolved. These include the fact that the unpredictable movements of the water's surface disturb the acoustic signals as they travel between the sender and the receiver.

We have found ways to largely eliminate the different forms of disturbance. One is to send short acoustic pulses, in which the data is stored redundantly in terms of both time and frequency, to the side of the pool.

Next steps

The European research and successful tests in the swimming pool will play a key role in helping to improve the performance of swimmers, but for TNO this is the start of many more applications for the Ministry of Defence, sports and consumers.

Underwater acoustic data transmission is an enabling technology: an invention or application that proves suitable for other purposes. In the first instance the challenge is to develop a thin and easily wearable device for the consumer market that raises an alarm when someone has been underwater for too long.

Get inspired

14 resultaten, getoond 1 t/m 5

Reliable and real-time digital twin systems


Optimise the prestations of your digital twin with Multi-party Digital Twin. Something for your orginasation? Find out how our TNO-experts can help you.

Poverty reduction with privacy technology: the 13 most pressing questions


Using Privacy Enhancing Technologies to fight poverty. What is this technology and does it process my data privacy friendly? Read the answers to the most pressing questions.

TNO EASSI can accelerate SSI adoption


TNO EASSI enables issuers and verifiers to save time and money by connecting to a single gateway in order to support any SSI wallet a holder may use.

Synthetic data generation: secure learning from personal data


Personal data from patients, citizens, or customers can be valuable and instructive for organisations, but the use of such data often raises privacy issues. Synthetic data may be the answer to this problem.

Conversational AI


Conversational AI enables information exchange between humans and AI systems. But how do we deploy it responsibly? At TNO, we explore the challenges of making optimal use of this technology.