Google is apparently working on alternative audio and video formats that could replace Dolby Atmos and Vision if they had their way.
According to a report by Protocol, Google plans to introduce two new media formats to offer HDR video and 3D audio under a new, consumer-recognizable brand without the licensing fees that hardware manufacturers currently have to pay Dolby.
Though the final product is still miles from completion, leaked documents and memos suggest engineers at Google are calling the product Project Caviar in their internal communications.
Dolby charges a license fee from device manufacturers who want to add Atmos and Vision support, which streaming services are increasingly promoting as a premium feature. Protocol claims they received a document that says the maker of streaming boxes, which retail for $50 wholesale, has to pay about $2 a unit for Dolby Vision and Dolby Digital.
What Google finds “would be governed by an industry forum and made available at no cost to hardware manufacturers and service providers.” One way the company could push hardware adoption is if YouTube, which doesn’t support Dolby Atmos or Vision, supports it.
This comes at a time when spatial audio is being marketed as the next big thing in sound technology, while the video side of Google’s format push aims to give end users the ability to record in these premium formats and get better quality video.
Samsung, which co-developed HDR10+ as a royalty-free alternative to Dolby Vision, has tried to make HDR10+ a household name but has largely failed to do so. That’s why Google wants to try again.
Google has discussed Project Caviar with hardware manufacturers who could save costs. The company has also spoken to service providers. Samsung, for example, doesn’t support Dolby Vision on its TVs because it doesn’t want to pay a license fee. Likewise, the Dolby Vision format has not found widespread acceptance on Android’s mobile platforms.
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