The United Nations estimated that there are at least 3 million shipwrecks littering the ocean floors. In addition to those wrecks, a full 0.5% of the ocean floor is made up of coral reefs. While shipwrecks are more dense around coral reefs (which is hardly a coincidence), that is a lot of area to cover. Undersea video surveillance is further challenged by visibility, power transmission, and data communication. That’s why it is so impressive that NOUS is able to provide undersea surveillance using off-the-shelf hardware.
NOUS is a very clumsy acronym for “uNdersea visiOn sUrveillance System” and that name was forced as a reference to the word “νους” (Greek for something like “mental activity,” but which has English connotations related to the philosophy of thought and reason). Now that the etymology nerds are satisfied, we can move on to NOUS’ purpose. It is essentially an underwater CCTV system that is useful for monitoring shipwrecks, the health of coral reefs, and even for a kind of virtual submarine tourism. Several NOUS cameras networked together can create a sort of Google Streetview-style experience and their feeds can be stitched together to generate a high-level image of a portion of the sea floor.
The best thing about NOUS is that it can be constructed using readily available off-the-shelf parts. At the heart is a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (8GB version). It receives power from solar panels floating on the surface or through a cable running to shore. It handles communication in a similar manner, with either a fiber optic tether or a floating wireless transceiver platform. Individual NOUS units can connect to a single platform or tether through a hub gateway.
NOUS also has artificial intelligence capabilities that help it continue working even when nobody is around to watch the video feeds. With the camera and onboard sensors, it can monitor things like water temperature, turbidity, and the presence of marine life or human activity, such as an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) moving through the area.
For testing, the NOUS system was placed at the famous Alonnisos shipwreck from the Classical Greek period, which is near the islet of Peristera in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece.