Wireless underwater kit lets divers talk

Wireless technology could change how divers communicate underwater

A project developing technologies to allow divers to communicate wirelessly underwater has received funding from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) .

The two-year Scottish research project will develop equipment that can transmit data wirelessly underwater and will enable divers to communicate with each other.

The two-year, £1.1 million project is run by Wireless Fibre Systems , Tritech International , and Insensys . The consortium has received a £560,000 grant from the DTI to develop the wireless technology.

The underwater radio works like a wireless modem and can be used to transmit data to and from unmanned machinery in deep sea. It should also mean that divers will no longer have to rely on hand signals to communicate underwater.

Ron Marquis, business development manager at Wireless Fibre Systems, said: "The signal won't go for miles, but it will actually work. Commercial divers work in noisy environments. They are making bubbles and often working beside machinery.

"Hand signals work well when you are in the clear waters of the Caribbean, but most divers are working with considerably less visibility. Radio communication isn't affected by noise and it's not dependent on clear visibility."

The DTI said the technology should be invaluable to oceanographic and environmental monitoring and will increase safety for professional divers working in the oil and gas industries.

In a statement, Secretary of State for trade and industry Alistair Darling said: "This is cutting-edge technology and that's why we're backing it. This project demonstrates an opportunity to help establish British industry at the forefront of this field."