What Is It?

Cost: Varies depending on the size and technologies used. The WaveDroid buoy is available at a rental rate of $30 per day, which includes a web-based real-time data service.
Applications: Can be deployed in coastal areas near shore or farther off shore.
Service Life: Variable. For the WaveDroid, maintenance is required every 3 to 6 months to remove marine growth and replace the battery.

Smart wave buoys, a.k.a. data wave buoys, can measure and report important data regarding wave action in real-time. This data can be essential for measuring the impact of storms and informing decision-makers. Wave buoys can measure all relevant properties of waves that are needed to determine their impact on the coastline and off-shore and nearshore wave buoy data is important for analyzing and modeling storm events. Furthermore, real-time wave data can play a role in disaster management as well as marine safety. With advances in small and affordable motion sensors, the costs involved with wave buoy measurements have dropped enormously. Recently, the first smartphone-based wave buoy has been introduced. Smart wave buoys are versatile and can be equipped with multiple technologies that can go beyond wave measurement to also measure water quality and provide interpretive and educational data.


  • They are a resource for more informed decision-making for marine transportation and safety.
  • Lightweight versions of smart wave buoys allow for relatively quick deployment.
  • Real-time data of local marine conditions, including growing waves, is available to everyone  through a phone’s internet connection.
  • Smart wave buoys range in sizes and can be equipped with different technologies that are project-specific, such as water-quality testing, educational interpretation, humidity sensors, etc.


  • If not deployed permanently, quick deployment is required during the onset of a storm event.

Regulatory Impacts and Requirements

Unlike many of the other technologies showcased, the buoys deploy in bodies of water, and are thus subject to local and federal marine and waterway regulations as opposed to the building-based agencies showcased in other profiles.

Additional Resources

Project Examples