Digital semaphore: technical feasibility of QR code optical signaling for fleet communications
Lucas, Andrew R.
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In recent decades, optical LOS communications such as flag semaphore or flashing light have atrophied to the point where, if they are required, U.S. Naval forces are at a distinct disadvantage. RF communications have become critical to nearly all operations, but this capability comes at the cost of disclosing the location of operations. Depending on the platform, these RF communications can become a critical vulnerability. EMCON attempts to minimize this vulnerability through the elimination of any RF emissions from a ship, but communication requirements in recent years have essentially prevented a complete suppression of RF emissions. This work proposes mitigating emissions vulnerability by utilizing a new method of optical communications at LOS visual ranges reminiscent of flag semaphore. Tactical QR code communications streaming digital data through optical signaling has the potential to provide tactical communications at a moderate range, allowing critical communications to be relayed to and from off-ship platforms. Additional technological advances can be used to overcome current range, security, reliability, and throughput barriers. This project demonstrates how a combination of essential technical capabilities can be used to establish a QR code communications system as a potentially useful approach for tactical operations.
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