Innovation That Matters

The camera could also be used to capture images of ocean pollution | Photo source Adam Glanzman

Battery-free, underwater cameras explore the ocean


The autonomous device takes colour photos even in dark environments


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Spotted: It is estimated that 95 per cent of the ocean’s depths remain unexplored, partly due to limitations in technology. But now, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) has designed a new, autonomous, underwater camera that uses sound waves to generate its own power. The novel device will help marine scientists learn more about the unexplored depths of the world’s oceans.

Battery- and wire-free, the camera uses very low-power imaging sensors for the photography. This allows it to run for extended periods of time via piezoelectric-generated power; the exterior of the camera converts mechanical energy from sound in the water to electrical energy. The camera can also store energy should it build up enough power for its imaging work. As well as taking photographs, the camera wirelessly sends the data it collects to a nearby receiver and the receiver then reconstructs the data into the appropriate image. The camera has been tested in several different underwater environments.

Such a low-power device could provide continuous monitoring in locations that currently are not easily accessible to scientists. Additionally, monitoring over long periods of time could help growers monitor the health of emerging marine farm technologies, and climate scientists track any changes to an ecosystem.

Further development of the device will focus on expanding the range it can transmit data across to the receiver, and on increasing overall memory so as to capture photos and videos in real time.

Reflecting a growing commitment to monitor and improve the condition of the world’s oceans, Springwise has spotted several innovations, including a robot that collects sea litter and floating barriers that trap pollution.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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