Google is going to tackle Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, and it could hurt

To use Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos, you usually have to pay a license fee to Dolby. That’s why Google is working on Project Caviar, to provide a similar solution, but royalty-free.

Do you know the Project Caviar ? It’s not a new type of high-end food, but a project by Google to provide an alternative to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. The goal is to develop open formats for HDR video and 3D audio, without having to pay royalties as is currently the case for Dolby. For Roshan Baliga, product manager at Google, quoted by the online media Protocol:

“We realized that there are premium media experiences where there aren’t good royalty-free solutions. »

For example, Dolby charges TV manufacturers two to three dollars per product to use Dolby Vision. The company does not disclose the cost of its Dolby Atmos license, but charges Windows 10 users about $15 to use it in their headphones.

The first target of Project Caviar is YouTube, which currently has neither Dolby Vision nor Dolby Atmos. But Google does not intend to stop there and wants to rally service providers and device manufacturers. Note that the company bought the On2 video codec manufacturer in 2009 and participated in the creation of the consortium Alliance for Open Media which deals with AV1 royalty-free video codec.

Samsung failed to win

Google’s objective would be not to offer new technologies, but to use existing codecs. For its part, Samsung has made an attempt to offer an alternative to Dolby Vision by co-developing the HDR10+ format, which does not require paying a license fee. Thus, the Korean manufacturer’s high-end televisions have Dolby Atmos, but not Dolby Vision. Unfortunately, this technology failed to take hold, mainly because of Dolby’s excellent strategy, which used players such as Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max to promote Dolby Vision, without their ask for fee.

On the sound side, Google may find it difficult to compete with Dolby, which has found a strong ally: Apple. Indeed, the manufacturer has adopted the Dolby Atmos format for its spatial audio technology. Note that the consortium Alliance for Open Mediawhich also includes Amazon, Netflix, Meta and Samsung, is also trying to develop a new 3D audio format dubbed Immersive Audio Container. This format could be used by Google in its Caviar project, as well as HDR10+ for the image part. Thus, users could record their videos in HDR10+ and publish them on YouTube. Google’s service could therefore serve as a Trojan horse to promote Project Caviar formats, especially on Android smartphones.

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