New Bristlemouth Standard Aims to Boost Collaboration for the Internet of Seafaring Things

Ocean-proof connector, mesh networking, messaging model, and more form the heart of an open standard for maritime sensor platforms.

Gareth Halfacree
22 days ago β€’ Sensors

Sofar Ocean Technologies and partners have announced the Bristlemouth standard, which it hopes will boost collaboration and innovation in the field of ocean data capture and analysis.

"While big data on land and in space have grown rapidly through standardized methods, economies of scale, and distributed sensor networks, the ocean remains largely unmapped and unexplored due to a lack of scalable ocean sensing strategies," claims Mike Wardlaw, program manager at the Office of Naval Research, which partnered with DARPA, Oceankind, and Sofar to create the new standard.

"We believe Bristlemouth solves that gap and will enable increased levels of data from the oceans that will in turn accelerate growth in marine technology and applications, empowering an ecosystem of innovation and cross-industry collaboration."

"With the availability of low-cost IoT hardware, advances in battery and photovoltaic technologies, and development of alternative satellite communications, scalable ocean sensing is already within reach," adds Evan Shapiro, Sofar Ocean's chief technical officer. "Until now, what has been missing is a full-stack connectivity standard.

"We developed Bristlemouth in response to the gaps in ocean sensing connectivity and are providing new components and third-party sensor packages to make it frictionless."

The Bristlemouth standard centres around a simple and robust two-conductor hardware connector, an interface module, and an application protocol. Its creators claim it's entirely ocean-proof down to "full ocean depth for long dwell deployments" and can handle hundreds of watts of power and "up to hundreds of megabits per second" of data transfer while also scaling down to microwatt sensor platforms and low bitrate data.

"Oceankind was created to support strategic organizations and promising initiatives that seek to improve the health of the marine environment. Climate change is eradicating coral reefs, kelp forests and other vital ecosystems at an exponential pace," says Oceankind chief technology officer Jason Thompson.

"We funded Bristlemouth to enable marine innovators to generate real-time subsurface insights that provide a greater understanding of our ocean environments to help advance science and technology needed to reverse growing climate threats."

The standard also includes a TCP/IP-based network stack that features a peer-to-peer mesh capability to ease the creation of broad sensor networks while also offering a publish-subscribe messaging model. Two network types are supported: One at up to 300Mb/s and based on the Homeplug AV standard, and another running at up to 5Mb/s.

More details on the standard, which is available under early-access terms, are available on the official website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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