Google is working on a royalty-free alternative to Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision

Google is apparently working on alternative audio and video formats that could replace Dolby Atmos and Vision if they’re successful.

Google is working on a royalty-free alternative to Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision

According to a report by Protocol, Google is looking to introduce two new media formats to deliver HDR video and 3D audio under a new consumer-recognizable brand without the licensing fees that hardware makers currently have to pay Dolby.

Although the final product is still far from complete, leaked documents and memos suggest Google engineers are calling the product Project Caviar in their internal communications.

Dolby charges licensing fees to device makers who want to add Atmos and Vision support, which is increasingly being advertised by streaming services as a premium feature. Protocol claims to have received a document stating that the manufacturer of streaming boxes that wholesale for €50 must pay around €2 per unit for Dolby Vision and Dolby Digital.

What Google is proposing “would be governed by an industry forum and made freely available to hardware manufacturers and service providers.” In particular, the company could boost adoption of the hardware by getting YouTube, which doesn’t support Dolby Atmos or Vision, to support it.

It comes at a time when spatial audio is marketed as the next big thing in sound technology, while the video side of Google’s format push aims to allow end users to capture in these premium formats and get better quality video.

Samsung, which co-developed HDR10+ as a royalty-free alternative to Dolby Vision, attempted to make HDR10+ a household name but largely failed to do so. That’s why Google wants to try again.

Google has been discussing Project Caviar with hardware makers that could save costs. The company also spoke with service providers. Samsung, for example, doesn’t support Dolby Vision on its TVs because it doesn’t want to pay licensing fees. Similarly, the Dolby Vision format has not been widely adopted on Android’s mobile platforms.

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