The National Geographic Society defines oceanography as, “an interdisciplinary science integrating the fields of geology, biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering to explore the ocean.” A brief history of oceanography, laid out by the National Geographic Society, begins with the first oceanographic studies completed by the H.M.S. Challenger Expedition from 1872-1876, which was the first voyage that collected data related to the oceanic environment. The more advanced forms of oceanography did not begin until World War II when the U.S. Navy studied the oceans to gain communication advantages across the Atlantic for submarine warfare. In the 1950s and 1960s, submersibles were introduced and ultimately became the technology that revolutionized oceanographic exploration.
Modern technology has enabled more in depth exploration of the ocean. It offers tools to observe the environment, study the living beings living within it, and explore the unexplored. With the increasing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is safe to say that more innovation will continue to drive oceanic research and exploration as we are able to connect more sensors and devices to the equipment that helps us learn more about the vast and expansive oceans. IoT technology allows researchers to take a scientific approach to the examination of the ocean through recorded and analyzed data. Some of the technologies already in use today include, vessels and submersibles, observing systems and sensors, communication technologies, and diving technology.
Sensor-2-Server Technology for Oceanic Monitoring
As IoT adoption rapidly expands, and in many ways changes the way things work – researchers continue to find new and innovative ways to explore the ocean. Some technology manufacturers are offering Sensor-2-Server solutions (S2S) for monitoring and data collection. S2S is defined as intelligent communication that begins at the sensor level and targets servers for specific reasons. The concept of S2S is about creating intelligent transmission from a specific location back to the appropriate server with the appropriate intelligence to drive action for change.
For oceanographic purposes, this type of technology unlocks the opportunity to incorporate more data points than ever before. Some Sensor-2-Server solutions offer platforms to host third-party applications in addition to creating the communication links for devices. This new class of wireless IoT communication solutions is starting to be adapted for oceanographic research today. Below are some real-life applications that leverage modern Sensor-2-Server technology:
- Communication with an ROV on the ocean over a distance of about two miles
- Vessel telemetry for units that operate in a variety of changing environments from quayside to middle of ocean
- Remote access to GPS stations in Alaska over approximately 13 miles to optimize the quality of data transfer for ocean mapping.
- Connecting remote coastal radar systems measuring ocean surface currents around Coral reefs during an upcoming experiment along the very remote NW Australian Coast.
S2S technology will continue to lead to new and exciting ways for researchers to uncover some of the ocean’s mysteries, understand how it works, and learn the behavior of its creatures.