JPEG XS pre-standard implementations emerging

Image boffins readying streaming codec for VR, cars, drones

The Joint Photographic Experts Group's image compression standard, JPEG XS, has started to turn up in implementations ahead of its slated April 2019 completion.

The still-under-development standard is pitched as targeting VR, 5G, and high-resolution image formats like 8K. The group says it's working on a low-latency image coding system for the standard, will cut both power consumption and bandwidth requirements.

The core coding system is due for completion in July 2018, and the whole standard including reference software is scheduled for next April (the roadmap can be found here).

As so often happens, developers jockeying for early-adopter attention are running ahead of the standards documentation process – however, rather than vendor-land, the gun-jumpers are academic, with the École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne (EPFL) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits among those making the running.

The Fraunhofer Institute is gearing up to show off a codec implementation at this week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show at Las Vegas.

The institute will demonstrate its codec handling JPEG XS as an input format for Adobe Premier Pro CC, with realtime playback as 4K UHD video (frame rate 60p).

Fraunhofer's codec runs at between 2:1 and 6:1 compression, using the SMPTE 2110 IP-based transmission standard (also under development; its first four documents were published in December 2017).

Switzerland's EPFL has virtual reality applications in its sights, noting that one reason VR headsets so often disappoint is latency.

Professor Touradj Ebrahimi of EPFL's Multimedia Signal Processing Group says in this release that JPEG XS is designed not for storage, but for streaming. It puts a cap of 6:1 on the degree of compression, and assumes that connections are fast enough to handle a larger file size.

Ebrahimi, who also conducted JPEG XS performance evaluations, is quoted as saying “we are compressing less in order to better preserve quality, and we are making the process faster while using less energy”.

As well as VR, EPFL's piece lists self-driving cars, drones, and possibly space applications as targets for JPEG XS (for traditional image storage, the familiar JPEG format will remain).

The JPEG XS standardisation process kicked off in 2016 with this call for proposals (PDF). As well as its latency, power and bandwidth requirements, the standard aims for an easy-to-implement algorithm, a small memory footprint, and support for long cable runs. ®

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