Keynote Speech: Underwater Acoustic Networks and Applications: The Next Steps

Underwater Acoustic Networks and Applications: The Next Steps
Professor T.C. Yang
National Sun Yat-sen University

Underwater acoustic networks may one day become the OceanNet, the equivalent of the Internet but deployed under the water (in the oceans). But why do we need underwater acoustic networks? The popular wireless radio frequency (RF) communications have guaranteed users and markets. The market is technology driven; advanced technology brings in more capabilities, and more users lower the cost in the technology development and production. Unlike the RF world, underwater acoustic networks have no guaranteed customers except perhaps in the defense sector. Its existence depends on the “need”. The need for underwater acoustic networks comes mostly from the need to monitor the environments, such as ocean climate monitoring. Other needs include pollution control, ocean engineering etc. Consequently, it may be said that without responding to the need, nobody may care about underwater acoustic networks. Conversely, if significant accomplishments can be demonstrated showing significant impacts on our lives, which otherwise will not be possible without significantly more effort and cost, great interest will be generated in the public sector. With that, substantial funding may be obtained to develop the technology for affordable underwater acoustic sensor networks. In this presentation, we discuss examples of such applications, practical problems, challenges, and potential breakthroughs in the development of underwater acoustic communications and networks so that one day OceanNet may become a reality.

Dr. Yang received the Ph.D. degree in high energy physics from the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA, in 1971. He is currently a National Science Counsel Chair Professor at the Inst. of Undersea Technology, College of Marine Science, Nat. Sun Yat-sen Univ. Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Previous to this job, he spent 32 years working at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, serving as Head of the Arctic Section, Dispersive Wave Guide Effects Group, and acting Head of the Acoustic Signal Processing Branch, and consultant to the division on research proposals. His current research focuses on: (1) environmental impacts on underwater acoustic communications and networking, exploiting the channel physics to characterize and improve performance, and (2) environmental acoustic sensing and signal processing issues aimed at improving the effectiveness of distributed networked sensing. In earlier years, he pioneered matched mode processing for a vertical line array, and matched-beam processing for a horizontal line array. Other areas of research included geoacoustic inversions, waveguide invariants, effects of internal waves on sound propagation in shallow water, Arctic acoustics, etc. He is a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America.