File photo: A diver makes his way out of an underwater passage to Isola Bella in Taormina, Italy, at the beginning of the summer holiday season on the Mediterranean island of Sicily, July 5, 2015. (REUTERS/John Schults)
One day soon, you may no longer use the “I go through a tunnel” as an excuse for why you’ve just hung up the phone.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the AMOEBA (A Mechanical Antenna) team working on methods to ensure that the answer to “Can you hear me now?” is always “Yes”.
AMEBA is in the process of development of the portable ULF, or ultra-low-frequency (1 hz to 3kHz), and VLF, or very low frequency (3kHz to 30kHz), channels able to insist on a whole range of materials that we may have previously thought to be completely incompatible with these signals. Think under water and by means of stones.
According to a press release from DARPA, Troy Olsson of DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office is working on a number of aspects of electromagnetic physics “that could expand wireless communication and transmission of data in an undersea, underground, and other settings where such features are essentially absent.” That means that the connectivity in a previously inconceivable scale.
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“If we are successful, divers could make use of a ULF channel for low bit-rate communication, such as sms messages, to communicate with each other or with in the near submarines, ships, relay buoys, uavs, and ground assets,” said Olsson. “By-the-ground communication with people in deep bunkers, mines, or caves could also be possible.” Olsson says.
While VLF and ULF radio signals are not new concepts, previous attempts to implement this technology in a large scale capacity has proven to be quite expensive and cumbersome. Olsson wants to create new types of transmitters that are small, light, and energy-efficient enough to be carried around by people, whether on land, in the water or under the ground.
“Mobile low-frequency communication is such a hard technological problem, especially for long-distance connections, we have seen little progress in many years,” said Olsson. “With the AMOEBA, we expect that to change. And when we do catalyst for the innovations we have in mind, we should be able to order our soldiers to be extremely valuable mission-the expansion of the channels of communication that no one has had.”