High-Bandwidth, Omni-Directional Underwater Optical Communications


High-Bandwidth, Omni-Directional Underwater Optical Communications


Farr; Norman E. Farr, Lee Freitag, James Preisig, Dana R. Yoerger, Sheri N. White, Alan D. Chave

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Optical communication underwater has advantages and disadvantages relative to acoustic communication.  Acoustic signals travel long distances but optical systems, although limited in distance to a few hundred meters, can carry significantly more information.  New developments in light emitting diodes (LEDs) have made omnidirectional underwater communication practical.


The invention provides improved underwater communication using underwater optical modems including optical transmitters and optical receivers that allow omnidirectional transmission and reception of optical signals over distances of approximately100 m at data rates greater than 1 Mbit/s.  The invention also provides for underwater communication networks having a plurality of optical modems communicating with each other.


  • Diver-to-diver underwater communication
  • Sensor to mooring data communication
  • Through air-water interface communications
  • Communication between sensors, ships and/or underwater vehicles

Key Benefits

  • High data rates relative to acoustic communications
  • Silent (covert) communications underwater
  • Communication link over 100 meters without physical hook-up
  • Low cost
  • Full ocean depth capability
  • Operable in noisy environments

Stage of Development

Working systems are in use for research applications.

Patent Number

US Patent 20070183782A1

Relevant Industries

Ocean Observation
Underwater Communications