Waterloo Engineer wins Emmy Award

Monday, October 5, 2015

Zhou Wang, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of Waterloo, has won an Engineering Emmy® Award for developing computational models that accurately and consistently predict how people view image and video quality.

The Television Academy, based in Los Angeles, California announced the award last week.

Professor Wang, along with co-creators Eero Simoncelli, a professor at New York University, Alan Bovik, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and Hamid Sheikh, a director at Samsung’s Mobile Processor Innovation Lab, will receive the award for outstanding achievement in engineering performance on October 28, at ceremony held at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

Zhou WangProfessor Zhou Wang

The Engineering Emmy recognizes the team for its creation of Structural Similarity (SSIM), a mathematical formula and computer algorithm that is now widely used throughout the television industry.

SSIM uses powerful neuroscience-based models of the human visual system to easily achieve highly accurate prediction performance, an issue that has long plagued the broadcast industry. Wang’s video quality measurement model is applied in real time on common processor software, bypassing previous models that relied on complex hardware and could not accurately report how humans actually perceived video and image quality. SSIM, in contrast, offers real-time assessments and allows production teams to immediately make changes to video or film to enhance the quality of their work.

"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," the Television Academy said in announcing the award.

Professor Wang is well known for his leadership in the field of image processing and multimedia communications. Recently named to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists for his work in this field, Wang is one of the world’s most frequently cited authors in the field of image processing.

Professor Wang was also the recipient of an E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship in 2014 – the prestigious award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) – for his work in understanding how people view the quality of images and videos.

Professor Wang is also co-founder of SSIMWave Inc., a spinoff company from the University of Waterloo. Supported by the University’s commercialization office and the Accelerator Centre, SSIMWave is commercializing Professor Wang’s innovations with products that promise to revolutionize today’s approach to video content processing and delivery for the optimal visual quality-of-experience.

In a nod to the power of technology, Josh Brener of HBO’s Emmy-nominated Silicon Valley will host the ceremony. 

About the University of Waterloo

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. A globally focused institution, celebrated as Canada’s most innovative university for 23 consecutive years, Waterloo is home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit uwaterloo.ca.

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