Since its inception, underwater digital acoustic communication has required custom hardware that neither has the economies of scale nor is pervasive. We present the first acoustic system that brings underwater messaging capabilities to existing mobile devices like smartphones and smart watches. Our software-only solution leverages audio sensors, i.e., microphones and speakers, ubiquitous in today’s devices to enable acoustic underwater communication between mobile devices. To achieve this, we design a communication system that in real-time adapts to differences in frequency responses across mobile devices, changes in multipath and noise levels at different locationsand dynamic channel changes due to mobility.

We evaluate our system in six different real-world underwater environments with depths of 2-15 m in the presence of boats, ships and people fishing and kayaking. Our results show that our system can in real-time adapt its frequency band and achieve bit rates of 100 bps to 1.8 kbps and a range of 30 m. By using a lower bit rate of 10-20 bps, we can further increase the range to 100m.

As smartphones and watches are increasingly being used in underwater scenarios, our software-based approach has the potential to make underwater messaging capabilities widely available to anyone with a mobile device.

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