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High speed underwater acoustic communications

We are looking for an early stage industry collaboration partner to further develop and test the technology with a view to a commercial licence of the intellectual property.

Contact our IP Commercialisation Business Development Manager:

Roger Plumb
Tel: +61 8 9266 4925

Summary of technology

Due to the very high attenuation of electromagnetic waves in water, sound is often the only viable means of underwater wireless communication. However, due to reflection effects from the surface and the seabed, and background noise due to sea creatures, it has been difficult to achieve reliable acoustic communication over long range at data rates to make many applications viable, for example transmission of real-time video. Our novel technology draws on deep signal processing expertise within the research team, using innovative channel estimation, tracking and equalisation algorithms to analyse the incoming signal and reliably identify the transmitted data, enabling data rates of around 4 kbps over distances of 10 km.


This technology has the potential to enable a wide range of applications, particularly those in shallow waters or close to shore where noise effects are greatest.

These applications include:

  • subsea monitoring and control applications in the oil and gas industry
  • gathering data from sensors and actuators in the subsea internet of things
  • covert communications between submarines and surface ships.


The team consists of Professor Yue Rong, Professor Sven Nordholm and Dr Alec Duncan, who have complementary experience in acoustics, signal processing, communications and real-time systems.

Stage of development

An engineering proof of concept has been completed and successfully tested in the ocean. A complete real-time underwater communication system has undergone a successful tank trial, and a river trial over a distance of approximately 1 km is planned for later in 2017.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property is owned by Curtin University. The algorithms are a trade secret and there is potential for protection of aspects of the system design via patents.