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Imax is looking to benefit from streaming era competition by acquiring SSIMWAVE, a Canadian tech start-up focused on optimizing video quality and viewer experience on multiple platforms.
The giant screen pioneer is paying $18.5 million in cash and $2.5 million in stock for the streaming technology company, with $4 million in additional earnout payments to be made if operating goals are met.
Imax CEO Richard Gelfond told The Hollywood Reporter the acquisition will allow his company to deliver the highest quality video images on any screen and device with different bandwidths beyond a traditional giant screen theatrical market. “It’s a streaming technology that takes images and maximizes the quality of them for any particular platform. If you’re on an iPhone, it will have the best possible image on the iPhone,” Gelfond explained.
The same can be done on a 100-inch TV as the SIMMWAVE AI software recognizes which device or platform a consumer is on and maximizes the viewing experience accordingly. Gelfond added the AI software behind the firm’s image enhancement technology is based on real data from real people on what excellent viewing quality should be.
And the streaming technology can be applied to a range of content and platforms, as optimum screen resolution is possible on emerging 4K, 8K and other interactive experiences across gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and the metaverse, among other platforms.
Imax will continue to offer SIMMWAVE’s image optimization technology to existing streaming giant clients Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount Plus and Comcast/NBCU for live broadcasting, and scale the company up to serve additional customers in the streaming space. The benefit to Imax is it now has an additional revenue stream.
And online players can reduce the risk that big investments in original movies and TV series may be compromised by a bad viewership experience on digital devices. “When they stream content to their different platforms, SIMMWAVE technology tells them how to stream it in the most cost effective way that creates the highest quality experience,” Gelfond added.
The Imax chief added SIMMWAVE is expected to be profitable by 2023. The Waterloo, Ontario-based startup is led by CEO Dr. Abdul Rehman and has around 30 engineers set to collaborate with Imax’s own engineers at the company’s research headquarters in nearby Toronto.
“We’re excited to join Imax and tap into its global scale and expertise as more streamers turn to SSIMWAVE to ensure the best viewing experiences while reducing bandwidth costs,” Dr. Rehman said in a statement.
For Imax, which has made much about allowing Hollywood directors to make movies using its proprietary cameras, Gelfond says the SIMMWAVE technology will allow filmmakers to see the best viewing experience for their films, TV series or other content on platforms beyond the movie theater.
“Filmmakers will be really happy about this acquisition because we’re going to help make sure that when their content is released on alternative platforms, it’s going to be in the best way possible,” he said.
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