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John Guzzwell, Rod Hale & Patricia LeFeuvre

Location: St. John's, NL

Award: Innovation Award

Category: Industry

Year: 2006

Innovation:

Developed an automated technology, the iSYS Automated Red-Eye Removal system (ARER), that identifies and realistically recolours "red-eye" in images and is the industry standard used in thousands of photo kiosks, consumer printers, photo minilabs and large central processing labs. Read the News Release and Media Backgrounder for additional information.

News Release

Newfoundland Engineers Win $10,000 Manning Innovation Award for Automated Red-Eye Removal System

Calgary, AB (September 15th, 2006) — Newfoundland's Patricia LeFeuvre, Rodney Hale and John Guzzwell have put their province on the map with their superior automated technology for fixing red-eye in digital photographs.

The three engineers will share a $10,000 Manning Innovation Award, sponsored by Xstrata, for inventing Pixfix™ Red-Eye software, which is used in thousands of photo kiosks, consumer photo-printers, photo minilabs and large central processing labs around the world to analyze billions of photo images each year.

The software scans digital photos for the vampirish red glow from the pupils that often occurs with flash photography. The system then automatically restores red eyes to their natural colour.

PixFix™ Red-Eye was one of the first truly automated solutions to red-eye, and its effectiveness has made the software a favourite among photo imaging companies. The technology, which is produced by LeFeuvre, Hale and Guzzwell's company, iSYS —Intelligent System Solutions Corp., has been licensed to 12 companies in nine countries in North America, Europe and Asia.

Photo kiosk customers may not know why their pictures are turning out so well, but companies that have licensed PixFix™ Red-Eye say the technology is effective and easy to use.

Hale, Director and Vice President of Product Development at iSYS Corp., says it feels great to see what they've created being used by millions of people.

LeFeuvre, Hale and Guzzwell developed their expertise in image analysis at their Alma Mater, Memorial University of Newfoundland, where they worked for a non-profit research organization called C-CORE. In 1999, the three engineers founded iSYS Corp., with LeFeuvre as President, in order to apply their skills to real-world problems.

The company decided to tackle the red-eye phenomenon since the solution would be a product they could develop on their own, with minimal investment. Within six months of conceiving of an automated red-eye removal system, iSYS Corp. had a working prototype.

Guzzwell, Director and Vice President of Business Development with iSYS Corp., says that one reason their software succeeded was because of their novel approach. While other programs scanned photos for people and faces, the iSYS software looked for objects—specifically, round, red objects!

"It is very gratifying to be one of the very select few to win this award," says Hale.

While iSYS Corp. is well known to photo imagers outside of Canada—Sony Japan, for example, was the first iSYS licensee—few Canadians know of the little company from The Rock. "I hope this (award) will put us on the map, locally," says Guzzwell.

LeFeuvre notes, "People are starting to see that you don't have to be from a big place to make an impact."

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year, the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation will award a total of $165,000 in prize money. Four awards, totaling $145,000, will go to leading Canadian innovators. Another $20,000 will go to Young Innovators with winning projects at the 2006 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The winners of the 2006 Manning Innovation Awards will be announced throughout September. All will be honoured at the annual gala awards dinner, September 29th, 2006 in Calgary.

The Foundation was established in 1980 in the name of prominent Alberta statesman, Ernest C. Manning, to promote and support Canadian innovators. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented over $3.6 million in prize money through its annual awards program (www.manningawards.ca).

For more information on PixFix™ Red-Eye and iSYS Corp., visit http://www.isys-solutions.com/index.htm or contact award-winners Patricia LeFeuvre, Rodney Hale and John Guzzwell at 709-738-1404 or at info@isys-solutions.com

For more information about the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation, contact Bruce Fenwick, Executive Director, at 403-645-8288 or at bruce.fenwick@encana.com
 

 

 

Media Backgrounder

Who?

  • Patricia LeFeuvre (M.Eng., P.Eng.), Director and President of Intelligent System Solutions (iSYS) Corp.
  • Rodney Hale (M.Eng., P.Eng.), Director and Vice President of Product Development, iSYS Corp.
  • John Guzzwell (M.Sc., M.B.A, P.Eng.), Director and Vice President of Business Development, iSYS Corp.
  • LeFeuvre, Hale and Guzzwell are the inventors of PixFix™ Red-Eye

What?

  • LeFeuvre, Hale and Guzzwell will receive one of this year's two $10,000 Manning Innovation Awards for their invention and development of PixFix™ Red-Eye, a superior automated technology for correcting red-eye in digital photographs

Where?

  • iSYS Corp. is based in St. John's, Newfoundland, which is also home base to LeFeuvre, Hale, Guzzwell and a fourth iSYS Corp. engineer
  • iSYS Corp.'s red-eye removal technology is well-known to photo imaging companies in Europe and Asia; PixFix™ Red Eye is licensed to 12 companies in nine countries, including Canada

When?

  • LeFeuvre, Hale and Guzzwell founded iSYS Corp. in 1999
  • In 2002, iSYS Corp. put contract work aside to develop their first software product; within six months of conception, the company had a working prototype of their red-eye removal software

Why?

Red-eye commonly occurs in flash photography of people and animals. Light reflected off of the blood-filled capillaries at the back of the eye makes the pupil glow red, spoiling the image.

Manually correcting red-eye is time-consuming and finicky. Red-eye can be a major problem for companies running image storage and printing websites, photo kiosks, and processing labs.

The digital photo imaging industry was in dire need of solution when iSYS Corp. introduced their automated red-eye removal software in 2002. Quick and effective, the new technology put the twinkle back in photo processors' eyes.

John Guzzwell, Director and Vice President of Business Development with iSYS Corp., says the basis of their red-eye removal technology can also be used for industrial inspection, such as inspecting food on processing lines. Other potential applications include scanning X-rays of luggage, security camera pictures or medical images.

How?


For years, the photo imaging industry sought an effective, automated system to fix red-eye in digital photographs.

John Guzzwell, Director and Vice President of Business Development with iSYS Corp., says that his company solved the red-eye problem with a novel approach. While other red-eye removal programs scanned photos for people and faces, the iSYS software—now known as PixFix™ Red-Eye—looked for red-eyes.

First, the PixFix™ Red-Eye software scans images for red, oval objects, taking note of flesh tones surrounding potential red eyes. The software determines whether or not it has found a red eye, and if so, greys out the offending area.

Because the software takes into account any blurring or distortion and the hue of the overall photograph, the recoloured eyes are realistic, and lack the zombie-like glaze that results from less discriminating systems. As iSYS Corp.'s President Patricia LeFeuvre says, "it puts the sparkle back!"

LeFeuvre, Guzzwell and business partner Rodney Hale came to the photo imaging industry with years of experience in industrial inspection. They were familiar with using image analysis and pattern recognition to inspect various scenes with natural themes, from fish fillets on a conveyer belt to rubble in a mine. The professional engineers therefore had an eye for what techniques would work in snapshots of people and animals.

PixFix™ Red-Eye is just the flagship in a growing suite of iSYS software, which now includes PixFix™ Pet-Eye to correct those glowing orbs in shots of Fido and Fluffy.

The Little Company That Could

"From a geeky point of view, problem-solving is what I really like to do," admits Patricia LeFeuvre, Director and President of iSYS Corp.

She, Rodney Hale and John Guzzwell were looking for a problem for iSYS Corp. to tackle when another Newfoundland company, already established in the photo imaging industry, told them about the issue of red-eye in digital photographs.

Before founding iSYS Corp., LeFeuvre, Hale and Guzzwell had worked together at the Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE), a non-profit, research organization of Memorial University of Newfoundland. At C-CORE and through graduate studies, the three professional engineers developed their expertise in image analysis and pattern recognition. In 1999, they formed iSYS Corp. in order to use their knowledge to solve real-world problems. In 2002, they decided to focus on solutions to problems in the digital photo imaging industry.

Six months after putting their heads together to develop an automated red-eye removal system, they had a working prototype. They demonstrated the software at Photokina, a major photo imaging trade show in Germany. The trip was a significant investment, but it paid off since the prototype greatly impressed a number of industry executives.

In order to develop and market their software, iSYS Corp. relied heavily on funding from the Industrial Research Assistance Program of the National Research Council. They also received a grant from the Small Business Market Development Program of Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development.

A loan, personal resources, and persistence were also critical to the product's success.

Within a year of presenting their prototype, iSYS Corp. had licensed their automated red-eye removal software to Sony, Japan; Lucidiom Inc., United States; and Axiom Connection Limited, United Kingdom.

LeFeuvre says she sees iSYS Corp. as "the little company that could," adding that "people are starting to see that you don't have to be from a big place to make an impact."

Notes Guzzwell, "Newfoundland is a little niche in photo imaging in Canada—and the world."

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year, the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation will award a total of $165,000 in prize money. Four awards, totaling $145,000, will go to leading Canadian innovators. Another $20,000 will go to Young Innovators with winning projects at the 2006 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The Foundation was established in 1980 in the name of prominent Alberta statesman, Ernest C. Manning, to promote and support Canadian innovators. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented over $3.6 million in prize money through its annual awards program (www.manningawards.ca).