CBC gives up radio signal for energy-saving dishwashers

Your dishwasher and dryer could soon be listening to the radio. The CBC and Toronto-based e-Radio-Inc. have unveiled a new technology that harnesses the power of FM radio to activate household appliances at energy-saving times of the day.

MONTREAL — Your dishwasher and dryer could soon be listening to the radio.

The CBC and Toronto-based e-Radio-Inc. have unveiled a new technology that harnesses the power of FM radio to activate household appliances at energy-saving times of the day.

The made-in-Canada technology uses a micro-chip receiver which is installed in a home appliance to receive FM signals.

“That’s what’s inside a programmable thermostat, inside a dishwasher, inside a dryer,” Jackson Wang, the CEO of e-Radio, said in an interview Friday.

“It’s a remote-control device that can switch them on and off.”

Eventually, the goal is to allow people to control their household appliances from wherever they are, through the Internet connection on their mobile phone.

Wang says the appliances can be controlled by a message sent through the FM radio signal.

Diehard radio listeners don’t need to worry: they will still be able to listen to their favourite programs while the data is being sent through the FM signal.

“It’s a little digital carrier that piggybacks on top of the main (radio) signal,” Wang said.

CHUM-FM, a Toronto radio station, as well as other private radio stations in Canada and the U.S., have also partnered with e-Radio.

The company says it’s now working with the public broadcaster because CBC and Radio-Canada’s FM signals reach close to 99 per cent of the Canadian public.

E-Radio says public utility companies can use the wireless receivers to control energy consumption in homes.

Wang says consumers may eventually pay for a premium service, which would use cellphones and the Internet to control their own thermostats.

“We could allow individuals — through web portals, whether they use the Internet or an iPhone or whatever — to get into (our) network and set their specific thermostats as well,” he said.

He notes that several thermostat-makers, including one in Ottawa, have already installed the receivers in their products.

A CBC official said in a statement that the public broadcaster was proud to help pioneer the made-in-Canada device.

“This is an innovative way for CBC/Radio-Canada to maximize the use of its radio infrastructure for the benefit of both Canadian consumers and the environment, without affecting the quality of our radio service,” said Michel Tremblay, senior vice-president of corporate strategy.