There’s a new video compression standard on the block. It’s called JPEG XS, and while it’s made by the same team behind the ubiquitous JPEG image format, it serves a much different purpose.

JPEG XS was announced earlier this week by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), headed by École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne (EPFL) professor Touradj Ebrahimi. The mission of this new format isn’t to replace the standard JPEG image standard, but to supplement it by being a low-energy standard for streaming video content via Wi-Fi and 5G cellular networks.

According to JPEG, the mission of JPEG XS is to, "stream the files instead of storing them in smartphones or other devices with limited memory." JPEG specifically mentions the benefits of JPEG XS for video captured and streamed by "drones and self-driving cars—technologies where long latency represents a danger for humans."

Photo by Samuel Schwendener

What’s interesting is that JPEG isn’t trying to shrink the file size with JPEG XS. In fact, quite the opposite. Whereas the JPEG standard has a compression ratio of about 10:1, JPEG XS comes out to a 6:1 ratio.

"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," said Professor Ebrahimi in the EPFL announcement post. "We want to be smarter in how we do things. The idea is to use less resources and use them more wisely. This is a real paradigm shift."

JPEG XS is open source, as well as HDR-compatible, making it a prime candidate for content creators around the world. Already, the European Space Agency (ESA) has expressed interest in the standard. JPEG XS would serve as a perfect format for sending high-quality images and video from space probes down to Earth while not using up any unnecessary energy.

According to Ebrahimi, JPEG XS will first be put to use in "professional applications like movie editing, space imagery and professional-grade cameras." Consumer electronics will like VR, AR, wireless connections between media devices, and self-driving cars will follow. The only remaining hurdle in the path of JPEG XS is the final approval from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Once it gets approved, it should be rolling into products and services shortly.