"The idea that we were designing something that had such an immediate impact on human health was really far from our minds," Sosik says. "It's gratifying to find that something we're doing as a basic research endeavor has this quick return."
Using the Imaging FlowCytobot in the Arctic Ocean, scientists recently discovered a huge bloom of phytoplankton under meter-thick ice, where they previously thought sunlight-requiring phytoplankton could not grow.
Yuki Honjo, McLane's chief operating officer, says, "We're excited about the Imaging FlowCytobot because it can answer a wide variety of questions." She foresees uses ranging from coastal rehabilitation to monitoring complex ecosystems in real-time for applied research.
"We're trying to build a fleet of instruments to answer a fleet of questions," she says.
A collaboration among Farr and other engineers at WHOI, BlueComm uses low-power LED transmitters with small, inexpensive receivers to transfer data through water at a rate of 10 to 20 megabits per second up to 200 meters away. It allows scientists to upload large amounts of data and transmit video in near real-time from seafloor sensors and operate robots without "plugging in" to transmission cables.
Before the arrival of BlueComm, scientists used only acoustic communication devices. These can transfer data over larger distances, but at much slower speeds that could not transfer high-bandwidth data such as video in real-time.
Like cell phone and wireless Internet access, BlueComm
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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution