JPEG XS, by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), is a new image and video format that is designed to stream content directly to a device rather than use the storage of “smartphones or other devices with limited memory.”

JPEG XS isn’t intended as a direct upgrade or replacement for the classic, ubiquitous JPEG. Instead, JPEG XS has been created as an alternative for use on Wi-Fi and 5G networks. The new format’s low-latency in both coding and decoding as well as its low power consumption makes it a perfect format for smartphones and other mobile devices that rely on any sort of wireless network.

The format should be particularly welcome in devices and technologies where latency is at a premium. JPEG specifically mentions drones and self-driving cars as ideal candidates for the new format, both being “technologies where long latency represents a danger for humans,” but JPEG XS also seems useful in more mundane uses like IRL (In Real Life) streaming, where one’s network might not be entirely reliable, or wireless VR.

Another thing to note about the JPEG XS is that it, unlike most format upgrades, is not attempting to improve on JPEG’s compression ratio. It actually is considerably less compressed, with JPEG’s ratio at around 10:1 while JPEG XS is closer to 6:1. The purpose of the JPEG XS isn’t to reduce file size, rather, it is specifically intended to preserve image quality while simultaneously reducing the energy and bandwidth required to transmit files. An apparent contradiction, to be sure, but streaming is a considerably different beast compared to the traditional download-and-store methods typically used for the transmitting of data.

JPEG XS will also be open source and HDR-compatible. Notably, the format has already piqued the interest of the European Space Agency (ESA). Similar to drones, the ability to transmit imagery at a reduced latency and with less power consumption make it a perfect fit for sending images and video from space probes back to Earth.

The new JPEG format is currently awaiting approval from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Once approved, should become available with a number of products and services, starting with “professional applications like movie editing, space imagery and professional-grade cameras.”

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Nicole LaJeunesse is a professional writer and a curious person who loves to unpack stories on anything from music, to movies, to gaming and beyond.