Capitalizing on the ability of human bones to conduct sound underwater, France Telecom R&D, in partnership with the French communications company Amphicom, has invented what it claims is a "world first." Comprising a buoy fitted with a GSM phone relay, and an underwater terminal, the company's system allows telephone communication with an undersea diver. The terminal, hard wired to the buoy, is equipped with a telephone-like dial pad and special mouthpiece. A buzzer and flashing light alert the diver to incoming calls. Sound waves from the surface transit through the system to the mouthpiece. When the diver bites down on the mouthpiece, the vibrations propagate to the ear via the skull, which acts as a resonance chamber. Conversely, the diver can talk back in half duplex mode. Presently under test by archeologists excavating the presumed site of ancient Egypt's Alexandria lighthouse, the underwater communication system is scheduled for commercialization by the end of this year. France Telecom, meanwhile, is looking at ways to eliminate the wire link between buoy and submerged terminal. Call Manuel Lesaicherre at +33 1 44 44 93 93 or e-mail manuel. email@example.com.
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