Google RAISR upsamples thumbnails for massive bandwidth savings


— 4:44 PM on January 13, 2017

When we're browsing the web with our phones, bandwidth is usually at a premium. Even carriers that promise unlimited bandwidth often pin an asterisk to the end of that statement that reminds us that they don't really mean that. Google's new image compression tool might just help save you some of those precious 4G bytes. I'd like to introduce you to Google's most recent application of its machine-learning technology RAISR, or Rapid and Accurate Image Super-Resolution.

RAISR upsampling takes a thumbnail of an image and uses machine-learning algorithms to try and figure out what detail went into the original, larger version. This in turn allows Google to serve upsampled images that use up to 75% less bandwidth of the original, while still retaining most the visual detail.

Right now, Google is only applying the technology to its Google+ service, and even then only to a subset of the images on the service. This will change as Google starts to roll the technology out to more of its services "in the coming weeks."

If you've been watching HBO's Silicon Valley, this looks a bit like life imitating art. There's no word if Google is going to keep this technology for itself or release it to the public like Brotli, but it'd be neat to see it used in other image-heavy services like Facebook and Amazon.

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