Underwater Visible Light Communication (VLC) for Drowning Prevention

2017 ELE Engineering Design Project (XF02)

Faculty Lab Coordinator

Xavier Fernando

Topic Category

Communications / Networking


Drowning is the third leading cause of death worldwide as ranked by the World Health Organization. In the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an average of ten people drown every day. Further, the Drowning Prevention Foundation found that 19% of these deaths occur in public pools supervised by certified lifeguards. Wireless detection systems can come in handy. However, The current methods of transmitting data underwater are not efficient due to strong signal attenuation. Existing solutions operate at very low data rates and typically use acoustic waves instead of electromagnetic waves. The most common method of receiving communications underwater is via the use of hydrophones that limit speeds to a fraction of terrestrial wireless systems. Visible Light Communications provides a new method for underwater communications.


In this project students will use the emerging Visible Light Underwater Communications to design a rescue system.

Partial Specifications

The underwater VLC communication system will allow a submerged swimmer to
alert others before it’s too late. When in distress, the swimmer will press a panic button on a transmitter worn in a bracelet‐like fashion. Once triggered, the bracelet optically communicate with the receivers at the shore. The system then pinpoints the location of the distress signal and immediately alerts others to the location of the drowning swimmer. **If the swimmer could not press the button, it shall automatically detect high water pressure and transmit the distress signal**.

Suggested Approach

Students will study the basics of underwater and visible light communications. The design shall be done and tested in hardware (funding will be provided if these are too expensive).

Group Responsibilities

The whole group is responsible for the accomplishment of the project

Student A Responsibilities

Underwater visible light transmitter design.

Student B Responsibilities

Underwater visible light receiver design.

Student C Responsibilities

System level design and integration.

Course Co-requisites



XF02: Underwater Visible Light Communication (VLC) for Drowning Prevention | Xavier Fernando | Not yet submitted at No time