Google develops sound formats to compete with Dolby – Music Industry

Google is looking 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 to Dolby.

Google shared plans for the media formats, which are known internally as Project Caviarat a closed-door event with hardware manufacturers earlier this year.

In a video of the presentation, the group’s product manager, Roshan Baligadescribes the goal of the project as building “a broader, healthier ecosystem” for premium media experiences.

The company’s primary focus for Project Caviar is YouTube, which does not currently support Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision. However, Google also aims to bring in other industry players, including device manufacturers and service providers.

This makes Project Caviar one of Google’s most ambitious pushes for open media formats since the company began working on royalty-free video codecs more than a decade ago.

Royalty Free Premium Audio

Project Caviar focuses on 3D audio and HDR video formats that make use of existing codecs but enable richer and more immersive media playback experiences, just as they do. Dolby Atmos Y DolbyVision.

Baliga did not mention Dolby by name during his presentation, but he made it very clear that the company was looking to establish alternatives to the Atmos and Vision formats. “We realized that there are premium media experiences where there are no great royalty-free solutions,” he said, adding that licensing costs for premium HDR video and 3D audio “can hurt manufacturers and consumers.”

Dolby makes most of its money through licensing fees from hardware manufacturers. The company charges TV manufacturers between $2 and $3 for a Dolby Vision license, according to Giles Baker, senior vice president of Cloud Media Solutions.

Dolby has not publicly disclosed license fees for Atmos; charges consumers who want to add immersive audio to their Xbox consoles $15 per license, but the fee hardware manufacturers must pay is said to be significantly less.

Still, in an industry that has long struggled with razor-thin margins, every extra dollar matters. That’s especially true because Dolby already charges virtually every device manufacturer a license fee for its legacy audio codecs.

Google has a lot of influence on hardware manufacturers. In addition to making these new formats available for free, Google also wants to make them more attractive to device manufacturers and consumers alike by adding features beyond those offered by Dolby Atmos and Vision. On the audio side, this includes more flexibility around a greater variety of audio settings.

Google is well positioned to drive the industry to adopt Project Caviar. Apple has thrown its support behind Dolby Vision, but the format has gained almost zero support from Android phone makers, giving Google an opportunity to promote a royalty-free alternative with a heavy focus on video capture.

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Google develops sound formats to compete with Dolby – Music Industry