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September 28, 2022

Underwater Camera Powered by Sound

In order for an underwater camera to operate for extended periods of time, it has to be powered by either a tether to a research vessel or a ship has to be dispatched to recharge its batteries. But could you power an underwater camera with sound, achieving longer, deep-sea exploration? Learn more on NSF's "The Discovery Files."

Credit: National Science Foundation

Underwater Camera Powered by Sound

This is The Discovery Files, from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Scientists estimate more than ninety-five per cent of the planet's oceans have never been explored. That means we've seen more of the surface on mars and even the dark side of the moon!


Operating an underwater camera for extended periods of time can be difficult. It has to be powered by either a tether to a research vessel or a ship has to be dispatched to recharge its batteries.

Funded in part by NSF, researchers at MIT are developing a battery-free, wireless undersea camera, one hundred thousand times more energy-efficient than those currently in use, that is powered by sound.

It converts the mechanical energy, generated by sound waves traveling through the water, into electrical energy.

Even in the darkness under the sea, the camera also uses sound waves to transmit data to a receiver that reconstructs the image, even producing color photos.

Since no power source is needed, the camera could operate for several weeks, allowing scientists to search vast parts of the ocean.

With increased memory, it could one day capture photos or even stream video in real-time. It could also assist in the creation of more accurate climate models, revealing how climate change impacts the underwater world.

Discover how the U.S. National Science Foundation is advancing research at And check out NSF's Discovery Files podcast, available wherever you get podcasts.

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at or on our podcast.

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