The Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) has developed an improved, more efficient image compression standard. Its potential applications include virtual and augmented reality, space imagery, self-driving cars and professional movie editing.

The first JPEG standard was created 25 years ago to store and send highly compressed pictures. Today, 10 to 15 billion JPEG images are shared daily over social media around the world. The Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) has now unveiled a new low-energy, high-quality JPEG file format. Dubbed JPEG XS, the novel technology will allow higher-quality images and videos to be sent with low latency over broadband networks such as 5G and Wi-Fi.

The Joint Photographic Experts Group is an international committee led by Touradj Ebrahimi, a professor in EPFL’s School of Engineering (STI) and head of EPFL’s Multimedia Signal Processing Group. “For the first time in the history of image coding, we are compressing less in order to better preserve quality, and we are making the process faster while using less energy,” he explained in a press release. “We want to be smarter in how we do things. The idea is to use fewer resources, and use them more wisely. This is a real paradigm shift.” JPEG compression reduces image file sizes by a factor of ten, while the new standard compresses files by no more than a factor of six and is not meant to replace its popular ancestor.

JPEG XS will be used in a wide array of applications. “In the immediate future, JPEG XS will be put to use in professional applications like movie editing, space imagery and professional-grade cameras. Consumer electronics will come next, including self-driving cars, virtual reality, augmented reality, and wireless connections between multimedia devices and TV monitors or projectors,” said Professor Ebrahimi.