No hace tantos años, cargar la más modesta de las imágenes en un navegador web era una aventura que habitualmente concluía con un icono en forma de aspa y no pocas maldiciones. Afortunadamente esos tiempos quedaron atrás. Eso no quiere decir que no se pueda seguir trabajando en optimizar el tamaño en disco duro de los archivos de una página web. De hecho, la proliferación de la banda ancha ha devenido en la creación de sitios que hacen estragos en las facturas de datos móviles y en las de los propios administradores cada vez que toca pagar el servidor. Por este motivo, Google ha creado un nuevo codificador JPEG.

A diferencia de formatos de archivo alternativos como WebP, que no gozan de compatibilidad extendida, las imágenes generadas por el codificador de Google pueden ser leídas por cualquier aplicación o dispositivo compatible con el estándar JPEG. Su tecnología se basa en un nuevo algoritmo bautizado con el nombre Guetzli (galleta en alemán; no en vano su desarrollo se ha llevado a cabo en las oficinas de Google en Zúrich) y reduce el peso de las fotografías comprimidas con él hasta un 35% con respecto a “otros métodos disponibles” de acuerdo con la compañía.

Muestra original a la izquierda, comprimida con libjpeg en el centro y Guetzli a la derecha.

El método de compresión utilizado por Guetzli se centra en la cuantificación en lugar de en otros factores como podría ser la transformada de coseno discreta. Descrita de forma muy superficial, la cuantificación se basa en reducir el número de información compleja o desordenada para convertirla en grupos homogéneos mucho más fáciles de comprimir. Esto suele implicar la desaparición de los detalles más finos y la aparición de feas bandas en las transiciones de color. En el caso de Guetzli, Google ha tratado de equilibrar espacio y fidelidad usando el modelo psicovisual Butteraugli, que trata de aproximar la calidad visual de las imágenes a la percepción humana.

Google explica que las pruebas realizadas reflejan que la mayoría de las personas prefieren las imágenes generadas mediante Guetzli antes que aquellas comprimidas con libjpeg, incluso cuando las segundas ocupan el mismo espacio o más. La única desventaja reconocida del algoritmo es que resulta sensiblemente más lento, aunque Google confía en que esto no sea un impedimento para su adopción.

Gratuito y de código abierto, Guetzli ya puede ser descargado desde GitHub.

Muestra original a la izquierda, comprimida con libjpeg en el centro y Guetzli a la derecha.
Fuente: Google


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