An ultracompact underwater pulsed digital holographic camera with rapid particle image extraction suite

Thangavel Thevar, Nicholas Burns, Mike Ockwell, John Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the design, development, and testing of an ultracompact underwater pulsed digital holographic camera (named weeHoloCam) that has been successfully deployed in the North Sea. With a footprint of 9 cm diameter x 60 cm long, and weighing just 3.5 kg, to our knowledge, this is the lightest and most compact system of its kind in the world. It can be easily adapted for
mounting on ROVs and AUVs. weeHoloCam can record 12 cm3 11 of the water column per hologram at 20 Hz and has a capacity to continuously record up to 200,000 holograms, each 5MB in size.
Along with the holographic camera, an FPGA accelerated hologram analysis suite has been developed. The 838 megapixel/sec reconstruction speed demonstrated is the highest reported speed for a single FPGA implementation to date. This is an extremely important development as rapid processing of recorded holograms is vital for the viability of subsea holographic cameras. weeHoloCam was successfully trialled in the North Sea, recording close to a hundred thousand holograms and extracting particle images within those holograms at a rate of 190 per minute. weeHoloCam has the potential to play an important role in a number of oceanic studies: spatial and temporal monitoring of plankton species; study of plankton dynamics; study of vertical transport of floc; and monitoring microplastic pollution in the ocean, to name but a few.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-576
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors are very grateful to DASA (Defence and Security Accelerator, UK) for funding the project (Contract No: DSTLX100013220).


  • Digital holography
  • Holographic camera
  • plankton monitoring
  • microplastic pollution
  • FPGA-based hologram reconstruction


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