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UnderWater Information Technology (UWIT)

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - UWIT (UnderWater Information Technology (UWIT))

Reporting period: 2017-07-01 to 2018-09-30

Alleco, a Finnish SME, has developed the world’s first tablet computer with a fully functional touchscreen that works under water. Alleco’s objective with this project is to replicate the market success of consumer mobile devices in an underserved market on a global scale. The proposed outcome of the project will be an ICT solution for professional divers - ranging from scientists, military and fire&rescue to dive instructors - that will disrupt the market for diving equipment and make underwater work & navigation more precise, safe and cost-efficient.
With patented core technology, and 25 years of experience in the industry, Alleco is well positioned to bring this novel solution rapidly to the market. With the developed product range Alleco is expecting to realize its growth strategy and become a global leader in providing the diving industry with ground-breaking new information and communication technologies.
The specific objectives of the project are to finalize the necessary hardware (TRL7) and software (TRL7) components and to develop an underwater data exchange- and positioning system (TRL7). Pilot testing will help to validate the full solution in real-life environments and raise customer awareness.

Alleco, a Finnish consultancy firm focused on marine biology, set out in 2014 to create a solution that enables divers to access digital data management. In the scientific diving community, the tools are still widely traditional. Notes and other recollections from under the water have to be gathered on a plastic slate with a led pencil. The issue for divers is that collecting data has to be done in an old-fashioned method under water, while the same data has to be re-typed into a digital format once on the surface.

Prior to the Alleco underwater ICT solution there was no practical platform to handle digital information under water. This lead to the creation of the prototype for the first underwater tablet computer. With the assistance of the EU Horizon 2020 project, Alleco set out to bring 21st century technology into the underwater world. Through various iterations, now in 2018 Alleco has developed Alltab - the underwater tablet. The Alltab is equipped with a functional touchscreen, USB-capability and a depth resistance down to 150 meters.
With the touchscreen computer that was functional underwater a platform to support more efficient data collection and processing became available. This lead to the question, how can we make best use of this opportunity. Alleco proceeded to develop a software application for data collection. In addition, additional device to provide connectivity under water were developed. Through surface buoys connectivity such as two way communication or satellite signal assisted underwater navigation was made possible.
This has currently just been the starting point of the ICT revolution under water. Alleco firmly believes that these innovative underwater ICT solutions will have positive effects for years to come.
Work Package 1
Tablet hardware development. Alltab - the underwater tablet. Prior to beginning the Horizon 2020 project, Alleco had designed a robust prototype of an underwater tablet. During the project, Alleco was able to test various designs made from various materials. This resulted in a smaller and easier to handle lightweight tablet with a fully functional touchscreen. The internal liquid and membranes, both front and back, were optimized for touch sensitivity and maximum user experience. In the latest version, Alleco has also been able to improve the buoyancy of Alltab while underwater. This has led to an even more advanced user experience with the touchscreen and overall use of Alltab.

Work Package 2
Data collection software development. Allure - data collection software. Prior to the H2020 project, Alleco had created v.1 of Allure data collection application. However, this had to be modified to perfectly fit Alltab and the potential customer needs. Alleco increased the customizability of data collection forms and ease of filling fields in the forms. In the latest version v2.5 colorways are adjustable for underwater and surface use. The reaction area of buttons has been adjusted to maximize the use on Alltab over other tablet devices.

Work Package 3
Underwater data exchange device development. Allhub and Underwater Navigation System (UNS) - surface buoy systems. In the beginning of the project a prototype had been designed to enable a diver to connect to a mobile device on the surface for an internet connection and satellite assisted navigation. Very rapidly with slimming down the Alltab, the data exchange reel was also modified to match the new Alltab. Antenna connecting to the surface was attached to a floating case on top of which a navigation module and an internet module were attached to. Through rigorous testing with target user groups the performance of the UNS was optimized. As a result Alleco is able to provide a reliable satellite assisted navigation solution (GPS and GLONASS) for underwater use. The internet connectivity is a possible option depending on future use-cases and specific user requirements.

Work Package 4
Integration and testing. From the start it was clear that creating an underwater ICT solution would require various different pieces working in unison. Here Alleco took into account both hardware and software elements. During the project, the hardware elements have been made lighter, more reliable and easier to use by divers. The software elements have also received the same treatment with attention to detail paid with regard to software user experience.

Work Package 5
Commercialization and communication. At an early stage in the project, Alleco begun to re-brand the image to fit the target customers preferences. Promotion has been amped up in digital channels and at events. With a new brand “Valtamer”, development has occurred in simplified communication. Alleco has worked with potential customers and beta-testers to find what is really important to the buyer in terms of information on both availability and product capabilities.
Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact
Alleco’s solution is the first of its kind in the world. The solution provides divers and underwater professionals with the possibility to use modern IT solutions while underwater, something that so far has not been possible. This have shown to have many advantages, ranging from quicker and more accurate data collection, to more precise location while navigating underwater, as well as increased safety. The developed solution has been used in various projects to measure water and plant quality in the underwater world. It has further made it possible to conduct the world’s first uploading of a video to the internet from underwater, as well as made it possible for divers to get rid of previous navigational methods that relied on dead reckoning and estimates to actually knowing their exact location at any given time, while being under water.