'Such an unusual thing to happen for a software developer': Waterloo tech talent receives Emmy

It's no secret Waterloo Region is known for its tech talent. Recently, that talent was recognized with few statues that are also given out to big name actors in Hollywood.

Kitchener Resident Chris Dinn recently received a surprising phone call.

“They called me up and said the Emmy's told us we won an award,” he said. “I was definitely skeptical when I first heard it.”

He had to look up to see that he had in fact won an Emmy, specifically a Technology and Engineering Emmy.

“The specific technology we defined was getting an Emmy," said Dinn. “Google, got the news because mDialog was acquired by Google and actually the award is for the work that we did in Toronto. It's not for Google. “

MDialog was the name of a start-up company Dinn worked for almost a decade ago when he was the team lead developing a software that stitches live video streams on the internet together with advertisements.

“We started off working with Canadian companies," he said. "We were a Canadian start up, so we worked with CTV and TSN do to their add insertion in the early versions of the iPad app. You look back at these and they are almost shockingly primitive compared to what we can do on iPad's today.”

Google acquired mDialog in 2014 and says the technology is now being used for a new product called Dynamic Ad Insertion.

Once acquired by Google,Dinn and his then mDialog teammates moved to New York City for a while to continue developing the software before returning to Southern Ontario.

“Two of the engineers who worked on this team that won the Emmy are still based out of Google here in Kitchener and another is based of out Toronto working for Google still,” he said.  

Dinn has since left Google and begun a new journey opening his own tech startup. 

He says he didn’t fully believe the phone call until the statue arrived in the mail last week and he had the proof in his hands.  

However, that's not the only set of statues that The Academy of Television mailed to Waterloo Region.

Lois Norris is the CFO and COO of SSIMWAVE, who also won an Engineering Emmy she keeps in her Waterloo office. 

“We've combined engineering and neuroscience basically to create virtual eyes in software,” she said.

SSIMWAVE is located in Waterloo and is highly involved with the University of Waterloo.

“Basically we created technology that allows us to measure video and assign it a quality score and it tells our customers how happy their viewers will be with that quality,” Norris said.

She adds that this is now the second Emmy for one of the SSIMWAVE founders and the university is where they recruit most of their new hires.

“There is no better place to start and grow a tech company than in Kitchener-Waterloo,” Norris said.

“These technologies become standard," said Dinn. "We started it here, but it's now being done everywhere." 

Dinn’s Emmy will now stay on display in his Kitchener living room. He jokes it’s a great conversation piece.

“It's such an unusual thing to happen for a software developer,” Dinn said.

Imagine Communications, a tech company whose headquarters are in Texas, but have a field office in Waterloo, also recently received an Technology and Engineering Emmy.