June 16, 2017
By Rosemary Newton
As CEO of IRYStec, Simon Morris brings years of experience to his role. He chatted with us about the impressive technology behind his company, his advice to future entrepreneurs, and how he came on board as the final co-founder of IRYStec.
Ask Simon Morris about IRYStec, and you can tell he’s passionate about the technology.
“IRYStec is introducing a new form of display technology we call perceptual processing, which deals with the last metre of the viewing experience that is essentially creating a lot of problems for viewers,” he says.
IRYStec builds embedded perceptual display software that works to adapt a device’s display to fit the needs of the viewer’s eyes and to the level of ambient light.
“The modern display itself is amazingly enough still manufactured with the assumption you’re viewing the content in room ambient lighting. And that you’re a 25-year-old male,” he explains. “We use our displays in the dark in the nighttime before we go to bed, which is the number one cause of eyestrain and eye fatigue, we use our displays in the sun and can’t read them, and in the car, it’s a safety issue.”
IRYStec combines insights about the physiology of the eye with a lightweight set of image processing algorithms that deal with perceptual issues.
“What we do is, on the fly, adjust the colour and the content to really match how your eyes work in bright light and in the dark”
The result? The user gets a better experience and eye fatigue and eyestrain are reduced. It also reduces battery consumption in devices, reduces the heat generated in a car system, and is a cost-saving technology for device manufacturers.
IRYStec is also personalized.
“Your display viewing experience is also affected by your age. As you age, your cornea yellows and you start seeing colours differently.”
A brief calibration in which users choose their preferred image from a set of images, allows for an approximation of a user’s eye effectiveness—and colour and contrast adjusts accordingly.
Background and progress
Morris has more than 25 years of experience working in technology companies, including time spent with a multi-media processor startup in 2001, as a lead for product strategy and development on a chip for cell phones.
He was previously the CEO of CogniVue Corporation, a pioneer in licensing of embedded vision processor technology. The company was acquired in 2015 by NXP.
As an experienced CEO, he was approached by Tara Akhavan, CTO and co-founder of IRYStec, and Afsoon Soudi, co-founder and VP of R&D. As Entrepreneurs in Residence at TandemLaunch, they were in their final phase of assembling their executive team in preparation for graduation from the program.
“They essentially came to me with their business and asked for some feedback on what they were doing,” he says. “That kind of got me hooked and before I knew it I was back in the frying pan in early 2016 as the last co-founder and CEO of IRYStec.”
Akhavan, who has a PhD in computer vision and image processing, is the original founder who came up with the thesis for IRYStec.
When Morris joined, he says the foundation was solid.
“IRYStec was already well positioned, but all they had at that point was proof of concept, they had a bit of customer feedback about what they were doing, but we really had to turn it into a product and flesh it into a business strategy, and of course go out and get customers engaged and get financing.”
IRYStec did just that and graduated as a standalone company from the program in 2016.
Keep determined, but flexible
His advice to young entrepreneurs is to persevere and be determined, but also keep an open mind and stay flexible.
“What you start off with is not necessarily what you end up with. And you think you have all the answers when you’re starting out, but along the way, you have to do a lot of course correction.”
He says Akhavan and Soudi both exemplified this attitude as co-founders.
“It was great working with them, they have the energy of youth, and the optimism of youth, I’m a bit more jaded now that I’m older. It kind of invigorates you, working with young entrepreneurs you get energized again.”
He said it’s also important to be open to input and adjustment – and be passionate, an attitude that will spill over to employees.
“You have to believe in what you’re doing, really believe in what you’re doing. Particularly if it has some intrinsic good thing about it, it’s not just about making money.”