Google is said to be looking to change the immersive HDR and 3D audio landscape with new royalty-free formats to rival Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision.
A protocol report says Google plans to introduce “two new media formats to deliver HDR video and 3D audio under a new, recognizable brand.” The big difference is that device makers won’t have to pay A/V giant Dolby for the privilege to use it, according to the report claiming the initiative is known internally as ‘Project Caviar’.
According to a leaked video of a presentation to device manufacturers, seen by the protocol, Google is promoting the project as a “healthier and broader ecosystem.”
“The project focuses on 3D HDR audio and video formats that take advantage of existing codecs but enable more rich and immersive media playback experiences, just like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision,” the report says.
Of course, part of this goal is to make life more prosperous for Google’s own products. Since YouTube supports HDR10+, not Atmos or Vision, the new neutral codec should enable premium audio and video experiences to be supported on YouTube without Google, device manufacturers and service providers paying tithes to Dolby.
The plans could also put Google at odds with the likes of Apple, which joined forces with Dolby on Atmos technology for its Apple Music Spatial Audio standard, and other manufacturers that sell their products based on support for the popular Dolby standards.
According to the report, TV manufacturers have to pay up to $3 per set to license Dolby Vision technology. Google may be testing the situation to see which device manufacturers are willing to break established standards for a potential royalty-free solution.
Whether the audience has any appetite for another format war that doesn’t lead to quite enhanced audio/visual experiences as things settle is another matter entirely.