‘Such an unusual thing happens for a software developer’: Waterloo tech talent wins Emmy

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KITCHEN-

It’s no secret that the Region of Waterloo is known for its tech talent. Recently, this talent has been recognized with some statues which are also distributed to famous actors in Hollywood.

Kitchener resident Chris Dinn recently received a surprising phone call.

“They called me and said the Emmys told us we won an award,” he said. “I was really 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 that we defined was to get an Emmy,” Dinn said. “Google heard the news because mDialog was acquired by Google and in fact the award is for the work we did in Toronto. It’s not for Google.”

MDialog was the name of a start-up Dinn worked for nearly a decade ago when he led the development team for software that stitches together live Internet video streams with advertisements.

“We started working with Canadian companies,” he said. “We were a Canadian start-up, so we worked with CTV and TSN to get them into early versions of the iPad app. You look back at them and they’re almost shockingly primitive compared to what we can do on the iPad 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 time to continue developing the software before returning to southern Ontario.

“Two of the engineers who worked on that Emmy-winning team are still based at Google here in Kitchener and one is based in Toronto and still works for Google,” he said.

Dinn has since left Google and started a new journey by 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, this is not the only set of statues the Television Academy has sent to Waterloo Region.

Lois Norris is chief financial officer and chief operating officer of SSIMWAVE, which also won an Emmy in engineering which she maintains in her office in Waterloo.

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

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

“Basically, we’ve created technology that allows us to measure video and give it a quality score and that 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 founders of SSIMWAVE and that college is where they recruit most of their new recruits.

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

“These technologies are becoming the norm,” Dinn said. “We started here, but now it’s happening everywhere.”

Dinn’s Emmy will now remain on display in her Kitchener living room. He jokes, it’s a great topic of conversation.

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

Imagine Communications, a technology company headquartered in Texas but with a field office in Waterloo, also recently received an Emmy in technology and engineering.

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