Release date: 14 February 2017

Subsea to space communication: JFD’s HeliCom system to be used in world-first experiment

JFD, the world-leading subsea operations and manufacturing company and part of James Fisher and Sons plc, has the opportunity to be part of a ground breaking experiment through its helium speech communication system, the HeliCom Matrix.

HeliCom Matrix on news - news image.jpgThe experiment, to conduct a call between an astronaut in space and a diver in saturation will be the first of its kind.  NASA and NEDU (Navy Experimental Diving Unit, part of the US Navy) have been comparing similarities between outer space and subsea and are to arrange a telephone call between an astronaut living at the international space station and a diver in saturation within the NEDU facility in Panama City, Florida.  This is to be conducted through the HeliCom Matrix based at NEDU, to allow the effects of helium on the divers speech to be removed making his communications more audible.

The HeliCom Matrix is designed for helium speech communications with the occupants of a complete saturation chamber complex.  As saturation divers breathe heliox (a mix of helium and oxygen) their speech becomes high pitched and resembles what many know as the “Donald Duck” effect.  This makes understanding what the divers say very difficult.  The JFD range of Divex HeliCom unscramblers and matrix system unscrambles the helium speech using a vocal tract modeller digital helium unscrambler which essentially converts raw helium speech back to intelligible communications as if no heliox is present.

There is a huge improvement to diver safety when highly intelligible communications are in place. When a supervisor can understand the divers clearly using the unscrambling technology offered on the HeliCom unscrambler range, this eliminates potential miscommunication or misunderstanding, especially when a diver may be trying to communicate an issue.

The HeliCom Matrix primary function is to provide communications between the chamber occupants and the supervisor however it also offers entertainment and telephone calls.  This allows a divers family to call from home and speak to them through the matrix system, where the unscrambler function will reverse the effects on their speech caused by the heliox gas mix and allow a normal conversation to take place.

To view the news clip please use the link below: