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Everything the wave touches

e-Radio and U of T Collaborate to Reinvent FM Radio as Scalable, Secure IoT Platform

September 18, 2018

Worldwide, the desire to integrate renewables is tempered by the lack of low-cost storage solutions to balance generation and consumption. The economics underlying energy markets are therefore driving towards the inevitable conclusion that energy consuming appliances must transition from isolated and uninformed devices to connected and intelligent devices in the Internet of Things (IoT). Over the past few years, e-Radio has successfully field tested a broadcast-based solution with major NA utilities which can scale rapidly and widely to make this transition as efficient as possible. The solution is e-Radio’s patented Utility Message Channel (UMC) operating on the existing licensed FM radio broadcast network that spans the globe.

In FY 2018, e-Radio was approved for funding from Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through the Voucher for Innovation and Productivity I (VIP-Engage) program for a joint project with an engineering team led by Professor Antonio Liscidini from The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto. This research, mainly conducted by the PhD. student Justin Kim, aims to deliver a more sensitive FM receiver and new antenna structures, while occupying a much smaller form factor. These are key factors in advancing the commercial implementation of e-Radio technology at scale; not just for sizable appliances like water heaters but all the devices of IOT. The project marks an important next step to realize e-Radio’s vision - a fundamental game changer that could impact the world for the better by making all devices truly connected and intelligent.

For e-Radio, capturing the Innovations Honoree Award in the Tech For A Better World product category at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas opened the door for successful collaborations with major electrical utilities and local radio broadcasters in a series of ongoing pilots and demonstrations across the USA. e-Radio’s FM broadcast based UMC technology sends real time electricity information directly to appliances such as water heaters, thermostats and electric vehicles enabling them to use energy more intelligently and materially improve the efficiency of the grid. This smart technology allows us all to be good stewards of energy and helps balance the supply and demand of our energy resources.

e-Radio’s mainly FM radio-based broadcast solution with hybrid bi-directional architecture is the best logical solution to inform all devices at once, while optional return channels like WIFI or cellular can complete all existing and planned consumer apps. WIFI frequencies or any two-way unlicensed transmitter architectures are all limited in capacity, therefore off-loading data common to larger groups (like pricing) to the broadcast system will help mitigate congestion for other wireless channels that are already showing signs of congestion even before IOT fully takes off. The global FM broadcast network with e-Radio technology can reach an unlimited number, say billions, of devices around the world simultaneously in about 2 seconds. And because FM broadcasting operates outside of the internet domain, end user privacy is preserved without any possibility of breaching private personal information.

e-Radio has tested its UMC technology with a number of leading North American utilities with success and is now working with additional partners to commercialize. We are at the stage that OCE’s VIP program was designed to achieve – to get the technology over the hump to commercialization with the Ontario University technology advantage.

e-Radio represents a true disruptive technology – a new business model that can rapidly scale by using a network platform that already has a “day job”. Namely, a global FM network already in place that supports the system operators at costs not possible with other solutions. e-Radio’s disruptive innovation represents great economic opportunities for job creation in advanced green technology sectors with the societal benefits of a marked reduction in the carbon footprint and the depletion of non-renewable resources.

About e-Radio Inc.

e-Radio Inc. developed a patented smart-grid communications solution and operates wireless communications networks and designs and manufactures FM receiver modules that are integrated into a variety of smart grid devices. The company's products are focused on residential, commercial and small industrial customer demand management programs using the FM broadcasting as the communications platform. For more information, please contact project sponsor:

Jackson Wang, P.Eng.
President and CEO e-Radio Inc.
Ph. (416) 721-7272

About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.

OCE drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. In doing this, OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices and research, OCE invests in sectors such as advanced health, digital media and information communications, advanced manufacturing and materials, and cleantech including energy, environment and water. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario's Innovation Agenda as a member of the province's Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). Funded by the Government of Ontario, the OCE is made up of regional and sector-focused organizations and helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs rapidly grow their company and create jobs.

About Antonio Liscidini

Professor Antonio Liscidini is associate professor with The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto. His research interests are focused on analog mixed signal interfaces with particular emphasis on the implementations of wireless transceivers and frequency synthesizers for cellular and ultra-low power applications. He received the Laurea (summa cum laude) and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy, in 2002 and 2006, respectively.

Antonio Liscidini
Associate Professor
University of Toronto
The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department
of Electrical & Computer Engineering
10 King's College Road
Toronto ON M5S 3G4 Canada
Tel: +1 416 978-6454