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‘Leak whisperer’ wins digital acceleration program

An innovative Sunshine Coast company that has developed acoustic technology to detect underground water leaks has been named as one of two winners of ARM Hub’s inaugural SPRINTS AI accelerator program. ...

An innovative Sunshine Coast company that has developed acoustic technology to detect underground water leaks has been named as one of two winners of ARM Hub’s inaugural SPRINTS AI accelerator program.

Leakster CEO Sara Richardson said the SPRINTS program was a very exciting opportunity for Leakster.

“The SPRINTS program will help us to industrialise our technology, design for manufacture, and deploy the technology in a larger area of network for more testing and to prove the commerciality of the product,” Ms Richardson said.

“The ARM Hub has access to a lot of world-leading university researchers, and what we are doing is heavily involved in R&D.”

ARM Hub CEO Associate Professor Cori Stewart congratulated Leakster and Voltin, a Brisbane-based company established in 2021, which also won SPRINTS funding.

“Voltin has developed an AI digital inspection system of facades for high-rise buildings that can be integrated with Building Information Modelling (BIM) data,” Associate Professor Stewart said.

“Leakster and Voltin both successfully pitched their cases to an industry and academic panel, and both demonstrated a unique product with great potential for scale-up and access to global markets.

Dr Stewart said the objective of SPRINTS was to help de-risk the cost of innovation,” Dr Stewart said.

“The SPRINTS program fills an identified gap for companies who can find it difficult to access the expertise required to develop and test their tech solutions, which is key to demonstrating value to clients and investors.”

The panel assessing the SPRINTS pitches included Ms Shay Chalmers, consultant and Director of Strategic Engineering Australia; Dr Evan Shellshear, head of analytics at Biarri; and Professor Greg Hearn from QUT’s School of Design.

SPRINTS digital ambassadors who worked with shortlisted applicants to develop their pitches included Mr Chris Brugeaud, CEO of IR4 automated solutions; Dr Roozbeh Derakhshan, Data Services Team Lead at Technology One; and Ms Rakalene Condon, Head of Product, Everledger.

As winners of the SPRINTS program, Leakster and Voltin receive $25,000 each in support from the ARM Hub, which includes access to world-leading robotic and data science researchers, designers and engineers, and access to industrial space and networks to develop physical and virtual prototypes.

Eligible applicants to the SPRINTS program must invest $25,000 to receive the matched funding and expert support from ARM Hub.


Leakster’s acoustic sensors fit into underground water pipes, where the sensor ‘listens’ to changes in the noise to detect and classify anomalies that may indicate water leaks or large pressure transients that cause damage to the network.

“At present, leaks in pipes are often only detected when the water leak becomes visible on the surface, which can occur after many years of leaking or when a large pipe ruptures,” Ms Richardson said.

“Leakster’s patented technology is fitted on a pipe and sends a signal, remotely and continuously monitors the pipe, collects data, and remotely communicates this information into a cloud-based platform, which allows for the application of both signal processing and machine learning techniques.”

The International Water Association estimates water loss from pipe bursts, leaks, and water theft accounts for 25 percent to 50 percent of the total supply – and in emerging markets, the loss may be as great as 75 percent.

“The water loss figure varies between water utilities and is between 10-30 percent in Australia,” Ms Richardson said.

“A portion of this is due to leaks and bursts.”


Voltin CEO Mr Stephen Thornton said Voltin’s technology captured thousands of photographs of a building to provide a ‘health check’.

“Every building has defects and in most cases those defects haven’t been captured as its very hard to access the façade of a 30-storey building – our technology avoids the risks of workers with cameras hanging off high-rise buildings,” Mr Thornton said.

“Our system consists of cameras and sensors that skim across the façade and through a machine learning process, identifies the defects and maximises the information available to a building owner.

Mr Thornton said development was a continuing process.

“The SPRINTS program for us is a great way to get an infusion of knowledge and talent into an existing business.

“It gives us a low-cost, high-value means to access information and expertise in the areas where we want to develop our technology.”

More details about the SPRINTS program are available from the ARM Hub website. The next round of SPRINTS will be announced soon – companies can sign up for email notification.


More information:

Mr Tim Kelly, Lead Engineer, Business Development, ARM Hub | Email | Mobile: +61 406 195 269

Ms Sara Richardson, CEO Leakster | Email | Mobile: +61 405 306 436

Mr Stephen Thornton, Director, Voltin | Email | Mobile: +61 416 183 887