CoralSense   |   Enabling Underwater IoT

Research Project Funded by NPSTI

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IoT concept has been rapidly emerging in the last decade due to the major development of wireless communication systems and miniaturization of smart devices. IoT is increasingly becoming an essential part of our smart lives that connects with physical objects through monitoring and controlling creating more cyber-physical systems. At the same time, we live on a planet with water bodies covering two third of its entire surface. Maritime economy is estimated roughly as 1.5 Trillion USD  in 2010  including, fishing, oil and gas exploration, transportation,  food processing, marine tourism, energy harvesting and many other industries. Accordingly, underwater infrastructure are becoming more : 
  
  • essential to our digital lives ( i.e. underwater Internet Cables ),
  • massive to operate ( i.e. Oil Rigs), and more
  • Important to secure our food ( i.e. fishing vessels and fishing farms ).

Unfortunately, we cannot benefit from IoT that we are using right now in maritime and underwater industries because RF waves, the carrier of ones and zeros in the air, cannot penetrate water bodies as it does in air. It will travel for couple of meters and then the signal will vanish due to high path loss caused by the higher density of water compared to air. Optical waves cannot help too because due to distortion mainly caused also by water characteristics.

Acoustic or Sound waves is perfect for communication underwater covering tens of kilometers. Acoustic or sound waves were used before to provide early connection with the Internet through phone lines and MODEMs. It was slow, then. In underwater environment, carrying digital data over acoustic waves has more challenging problems in addition to slowness. Salinity, turbidity, temperature, and depth are all additional negative factors that affect the communication underwater. Hence, underwater communication is considered in many networking and communication  research fields as " Challenging Environment".
    
Industrial grade underwater acoustic modems do exist for mission critical maritime and underwater communication. However, they are extremely epensive for research labs, amature users and for building a large network of them, 

Extending the reach of Internet connectivity to things that reside in aquatic bodies was a challenging objective for us. Our motivation at CoralSense project was to help enabling Internet of Underwater Things by providing low-cost wireless communication devices that are built from off-the-shelf and open-source hardware and software components.

  
Radio Waves cannot be used for underwater communication; instead Acoustic Waves are mostly used for data communication. 
  


Enabling IoT in udnerwater envionment using Low-Cost and Open Source  Acoustic Modem built from off-the-shelf components

Value to Saudi Arabia

  1. Fish Farming
    Fish Farming
    Fish farming is expected to boom in Saudi Arabia as a result of 2030 vision to reach 1 Million Tons of production in 2030. Monitoring artificial cages and fish ponds can be automated using underwater IoT nodes and sensors
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  2. Water Salinty Monitoring
    Water Salinty Monitoring
    Water desalination plants are crucial mega infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. They provide drinkable water out of sea water to communities. The downside however, resulted as damages to aqua environment around the plants. Underwater IoT networks can be installed at the bottom of the sea to measure and monitor pollution and salinity levels.
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  3. Underwater Oil and Gas Pipelines
    Underwater Oil and Gas Pipelines
    Oil and Gas Pipelines running underwater are a crucial mean to transport oil and gas between sea oil facilities and refineries on the mainland. An early detection of a fracture in the structure of the pipeline will not only save production lines but also will save the surrounding environment. [Video Link]
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Prototypes

Final Prototype

In our final prototype, we used Piezoelectric transducers which are "a type of electroacoustic transducer that convert the electrical charges into energy. The word "piezoelectric" literally means electricity caused by pressure." We used professional water sealed box to put our Bagel-Bone Black with it Audio Cape in addition to 10000 mAh Power Bank. 

Previous Prototypes

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Before we use the Pizoelectric transducers, we have used twitters and speakers. It was Bulky and Greasy ! We used Frying Oil in one prototype to mediate the difference in density between air and water. 

Publications



  • A. Sheikh, Emad Felemban, M. Felemban, S. Qaisar, Challenges and Opportunities for Underwater Sensor Networks. to appear in IIT 2016 UAE





  • Emad Felemban, F. Shaikh, U. Qureshi, A. Sheikh, S. Qaisar. Underwater sensor network applications: A comprehensive survey. International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks 2015, 5

Student Training
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Ten students were involved in the project. They were divided into two groups,  each group built, programmed and tested the open-source submarine OPENROV which was used in the project for expermintation
Outreach
Visit to National Aquacultural Group, Center of Wireless and Celluar Research in Tabuk University. 
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Expermintation
We have done three levels of expermintation.

  • in-lab expermints using 80cm x 220cm aquarium
  • 4m x 8m Swimming Pool expermints  
  • Sea expermints 
Team
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    Emad Felemban
    Primary Investigator
    Professor @ UQU
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    Saad Bin Qaisar
    CO Investigator
    Professor @ NUST
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    Adil Amjad Sheikh
    Project Manager
    RA @ UQU
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    Mohamed Felemban
    PhD Student
    RA & PhD Candidate @ Purdue University
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    Adnan Ashraf
    Systems Engineer
    RA @ UQU
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    Asif Mansour
    Electronics Engineer
    RA @ UQU
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    Mohsen Murad
    Electronics Engineer
    RA @ UQU
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    Yousef Zia
    Electronics Engineer
    RA @ UQU
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    Amjad Yarkandi
    Systems Engineer
    RA @ UQU