NEC has released StarPixel, an image codec that achieves a compression ratio similar to JPEG2000, while keeping the image processing load below that of JPEG. NEC developed StarPixel using its own image conversion and encoding technology.
A version that enables lossless compression has been included in the Venus probe Akatsuki. In addition, Hayabusa 2, a planetary explorer scheduled for launch in 2014, will have both lossless and lossy versions.
“In this demo with a moving car, the side camera captures 120 frames per second. On the right side of the screen, the pictures are compressed and restored using StarPixel in real time at 120 fps. It seems to be handled easily, but compressing, restoring, and displaying pictures at 120 fps on an ordinary PC can’t be done unless the processing load is low.”
In software compression tests using color images, compared with JPEG2000, compression speed was 10-40 times higher for a similar compression ratio, and expansion speed was 6-13 times higher.
This technology is also being used in a road image gathering system by the NEXCO West Japan Group.
“For expressway maintenance, roads are photographed at high speed – tens of frames per second. Until now, the pictures have been stored without compression. But now, using StarPixel, we can take pictures and store them on PC in real time, reducing the amount of image data by about half. This means we can photograph double the length of road in the same time. This is one example of how StarPixel’s advantages are emerging.”
StarPixel is provided as a standard Windows DLL, enabling it to be quickly embedded in various current image processing systems. NEC aims to sell 10,000 licenses during the next three years.