SSIMWAVE Focuses on Viewer Experience and Delivers a New Gold Standard in Video Monitoring and Optimization for Broadcasters

We’ve all tried to watch our favourite movie, TV series, or live event and become frustrated by the video or sound quality, the placement of ads, or the loading speed. For viewers, the experience is annoying, disappointing, and probably results in them giving up and moving on to another source of video, but, for broadcasters, studios, and video delivery services, it could mean lost revenue.

That’s where SSIMWAVE comes in. For the first time in history, the company provides the media and entertainment industry with a solution based on real-time viewer intelligence to deliver the ultimate viewer experience – from the camera to the screen. The technology starts with the most accurate and complete video quality measure ever built. By accurately modeling and measuring human viewers’ quality-of-experience (QoE), video broadcasters can take full advantage of digital efficiencies to architect encoding and stream optimization to meet or exceed consumer expectations.

SSIMWAVE’s end-to-end products are in market with leading broadcasters, production studios, and telecom companies and they are delivering real results. SSIMWAVE software allows these companies to utilize viewer intelligence data to accurately predict viewer experience and create a consistent and common reference point for video quality – something the industry has never seen before. That means companies can eliminate the trial and error process when it comes to testing infrastructure and delivery methods and can ensure a consistent viewer experience regardless of what device or platform the video is being delivered on.  The result is that viewers get the best possible experience and broadcasters can create efficiencies and make guarantees to content producers and consumers on the quality of the viewer experience for any screen anywhere.

The company, founded by University of Waterloo professor Zhou Wang and PhDs Abdul Rehman and Kai Zeng, is the result of 25 years of research and development. Impressively, the technology is built on SSIMPLUS, the next generation algorithm based on Professor Wang’s breakthrough structural similarity (SSIM) algorithm that won an Engineering Emmy Award last year for its impact to the TV industry over the last decade and which has resulted in almost 40,000 academic citations – far more than any other work in the space.

In 2013, the University of Waterloo provided the SSIMWAVE team with funding to get their project off the ground. That injection of capital helped them build the product. Once they were ready to begin selling into the market Gary Brock, Director of Strategic Initiatives, introduced the SSIMWAVE team to the Accelerator Centre (AC).

In 2015, they joined the Accelerator Program and immediately began utilizing the mentorship available to them. “Both Kevin Hood and Kevin Elop were very helpful to us, ” CEO and Co-founder Abdul Rehman recalls. “When we started, we were engineers. We had no business experience. Working with the mentors gave us the confidence to grow our business knowing that whatever challenges we ran into, someone at the AC would be there to help us put the pieces of the puzzle together. They gave us the confidence to be successful.”

In June of this year, SSIMWAVE relocated to a new office space to accommodate their rapidly growing staff, including the addition of an experienced executive team including Dianne Mercer for sales, Saj Jamal for marketing and Steve McCartney as President to oversee business development, operations and strategic growth. The AC’s flexible programming means that even though they are no longer located at the AC facility, they can continue to utilize the mentorship until they graduate from the program. “One of our biggest priorities now is building our team up to be ready to grow and scale rapidly,” Abdul says. “Now, the mentors can advise not only our founding team, but our new staff members as well to help them excel in their own roles.”

Over the next few years, SSIMWAVE is expected to continue to grow rapidly and become the international, gold standard for measuring video quality. “We look forward to seeing SSIMWAVE in the credits of every movie or TV series made,” Abdul says. “We’re actively putting the pieces in place and we are ready.”

Waterloo-Based Aterlo Networks Raises $1 Million

Aterlo - 1 - web

By Jessica Galang

Aterlo Networks, a company dedicated to building technology for bandwidth or broadband usage-limited homes to enjoy high-quality streaming video, has closed $1 million in funding led by the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund.

The MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund provides early-stage investment to Ontario-based companies with terms meant to attract future investors, and invests up to $500,000 in privately-held companies with no significant revenue or institutional investment. BDC Capital and Sandvine, which recently received $15 million from the provincial government, also invested in the round.

Aterlo will use the funding to expand features of its NightShift product, which pre-loads video during off-peak hours so content is stored closer to the subscriber. The company said these times often coincide with free zones offered by ISPs, so all of the downloading is done without impacting the subscriber’s datacap.

“Internet subscribers not being able to stream high definition video is a much bigger problem than most people realize,” said Gerrit Nagelhout, CEO of Aterlo Networks. “Their bandwidth is almost high enough to stream it, but it just misses the mark. Streaming just an hour of HD video a day uses 3GB, so many households very quickly collide with their data caps. With 4K video content coming and the desire for several video active video streams, the problem will only get worse.”

The company will also use the funding to hire local talent and expand its marketing team.

Founder of SSIMWAVE Recognized with Engineering Emmy® Award

Studies Estimate Three-Quarters of Consumer Internet Traffic will be Video by 2017

Zhou Wang, co-founder of AC Client SSIMWave Inc., and Professor at the University of Waterloo, was presented with an Engineering Emmy by the Los Angeles-based Television Academy on October 28, 2015, at the 67th Engineering Emmy Awards for his contribution to the development of the Structural SIMilarity (SSIM) Index for video quality measurement. Only a handful of Canadian (individuals or companies) have received this prestigious award.

The SSIM index family of algorithms, invented by Dr. Wang, are now the most widely used method for measuring video quality used throughout the media, telecommunications and entertainment industries.  Recent studies estimate by 2017 over three-quarters of consumer internet traffic will be video. Video is the future of content marketing – quality, speed and flexibility is crucial.

“Structural Similarity (SSIM) is an algorithm for estimating the perceived quality of an image or video. Its computational simplicity and ability to accurately predict human assessment of visual quality has made it a standard tool in broadcast and post-production houses throughout the television industry. SSIM uses powerful neuroscience-based models of the human visual system to achieve breakthrough quality prediction performance. Unlike previous complex error models that required special hardware, it can be easily applied in real time on common processor software. SSIM is now a widely-used perceptual video quality measure, used to test and refine video quality throughout the global cable and satellite TV industry, and directly affects the viewing experiences of tens of millions of viewers daily.” — Television Academy

On being selected for this award, Dr. Wang commented: “I’m extremely happy to receive the Emmy from the Television Academy. It was a lot of fun when we did the SSIM work more than 10 years ago, and it was also very exciting seeing it being recognized and used by more and more people in academia and industry over the years.”

Over the past decade following the development of SSIM, Dr. Wang, Dr. Abdul Rehman, Co-Founder, President & CEO of SSIMWave, and Dr. Kai Zeng have made many breakthroughs and improvements to SSIM in terms of accuracy, speed, applicability and flexibility. “SSIM is just a starting point and we do not stop there. We have been making continuous effort to deliver more useful tools for automatic assessment of video quality and to help improve the visual quality-of-experience of everyone” said Dr. Wang.

In 2013, Drs. Wang, Rehman and Zeng co-founded SSIMWave, Inc., in Waterloo, ON, a spin-off company from the University of Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo) with the assistance of their business adviser Mrs. Ling Loerchner.

The SSIMWave team developed SSIMplus, a new set of algorithms enabling the team to develop new software solutions which are revolutionizing both the broadcasting of video (TV and internet), improving end-user visual experience, optimizing bitrate, and enhancing video streaming quality-of-experience. Video is the new document, and SSIMWave’s products for video quality of experience measurement and optimization offer crucial solutions in this rapidly expanding and competitive environment.

SSIMWave’s SQM hopes to be the Gold Standard Video Quality of Experience Monitoring Solution for file based internet video, and their SQM Live for live video – both revolutionize today’s approach to video content processing and delivery for the optimal visual quality of experience for end-users. Their optimization software includes SSIMWave’s Perceptual Bandwidth Optimizer and Smart Video Streaming for video delivery.

AC Grad Kik adds video option for its 200 million registered users

Mobile messaging app Kik has added native video capture to its service as it lays the groundwork to offer more interactive content options for its 200 million registered users.

An update to Kik for iOS and Android today now lets users record videos of up to 15 seconds from inside their chat windows. The feature includes a full-screen playback option, and videos will loop continuously.

The new addition is pretty smooth, but video capture is a standard part of any communications service these days.Kik Video SMKik — which offers a sophisticated in-chat browser for sharing web content — admits it is playing catch up here.

Now that it has established its own video platform as a base, however, the Canada-based company plans to go forth and be more creative. Or, at least, offer its users the chance to unleash new shades of creativity on its service.

To read the full article, click here.

AC Client LiveApp's phone application gives the London Knights video edge

Dale Hunter worships at the altar of the Hockey Video gods. Many of his Knights skaters spend a lot of time staring at their smartphones. Thanks to some London-bred ingenuity and a Waterloo-based mobile marketing firm called LiveApp, the two pursuits have merged.

Shortly after the win in Kitchener Tuesday, every Knights player had the ability to watch his own shifts from that game on his own mobile device — and if they had questions, they could ask one of their coaches instantly.

“If you want to look at a shift, you don’t have to go through the whole game,” over-age defenceman Dakota Mermis said. “They’re right there (in your personal folder) on the London Knights app. It’s not forced down our throats, and if you’re down on yourself, you don’t have to go see all the bad plays you made. You can watch the good ones and bring your spirits up a bit.“It’s in your control.”

The kids have been using this video room on-the-go platform for nearly a month-and-a-half. Former Western Mustangs forward Steve Benedetti, an employee of Anil Mehta’s LiveApp company and assistant coach of the junior B London Nationals, used his Junior Knights minor midget team last season as a trial run for this idea.

To read the full article, click here                                                                                                                                                            .

Check out this video of AC Grad Clearpath Robotics' newest robots

Featured on InnerSpace, the video goes into the Clearpath Robotics facility and showcases some of the amazing robots they have created.

Click here to watch.