Dolby Atmos, Google’s Undertaking Caviar, will compete with Imaginative and prescient

Google arms for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Imaginative and prescient: The corporate desires to introduce two new media codecs to ship HDR video and 3D audio underneath a brand new consumer-recognized model, with out the license charges that {hardware} producers at the moment must pay to Dolby.

At a behind-the-scenes occasion with {hardware} producers earlier this yr, Google shared its plans for media codecs identified internally as Undertaking Caviar. In a video of the presentation leaked to the protocol, group product supervisor Roshan Baliga explains the purpose of the challenge as making a “more healthy, broader ecosystem” for premium media experiences.

Google didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The corporate’s main focus for Undertaking Caviar is YouTube, which doesn’t at the moment assist Dolby Atmos or Dolby Imaginative and prescient. Nonetheless, Google goals to contain different business gamers, together with machine producers and repair suppliers. This makes Undertaking Caviar one in every of Google’s most bold strikes for open media codecs for the reason that firm started engaged on royalty-free video codecs greater than a decade in the past.

Dolby’s charges might rise for producers

Google’s open media efforts thus far have centered totally on the event of codecs. The corporate acquired video codec maker On2 in 2009 to open-source a few of its know-how; He additionally performed a key function in founding the Alliance for Open Media, an business consortium that oversees the royalty-free AV1 video codec.

Undertaking Caviar differs from these efforts in that there isn’t a different codec. As a substitute, the challenge focuses on 3D audio and HDR video codecs that use current codecs however enable for richer and extra immersive media playback experiences resembling Dolby Atmos and Dolby Imaginative and prescient.

Baliga didn’t point out Dolby by identify throughout his presentation, however however made it clear that the corporate wished to create alternate options to the Atmos and Imaginative and prescient codecs. “We have seen premium media experiences the place there are not any nice royalty-free options,” he stated, including that licensing prices for premium HDR video and 3D audio “might damage producers and shoppers.”

Dolby makes most of its cash from license charges from {hardware} producers. In line with Giles Baker, SVP of Cloud Media Options, the corporate costs TV producers between $2 and $3 to license Dolby Imaginative and prescient. Dolby didn’t publicly disclose Atmos license charges; It costs shoppers $15 per license wanting so as to add immersive audio to their Xbox consoles, however the worth {hardware} producers must pay is claimed to be considerably decrease.

“We have discovered world-class media experiences the place there are not any nice royalty-free options.”

Nonetheless, in an business that has lengthy struggled with razor-thin margins, each further greenback counts. That is very true as a result of Dolby costs a license charge for legacy audio codecs from practically all machine producers. In line with a doc shared with Protocol by an business professional, a streaming field producer that sells for $50 wholesale must pay about $2 per unit for Dolby Imaginative and prescient and Dolby Digital.

“The price will be exorbitant for low-cost lounge home equipment,” Baliga stated throughout her presentation.

HDR10+ has not grow to be a family identify

Google is not the primary firm to attempt to create an alternative choice to Dolby’s codecs. Specifically, Samsung has lengthy resisted overpaying Dolby. The TV maker developed HDR10+ as a royalty-free different to Dolby Imaginative and prescient and doesn’t assist Dolby Imaginative and prescient on any TV set.

However makes an attempt to make HDR10+ a family identify have largely failed. That is partly as a result of Dolby’s present robust model and licensing technique: as an alternative of charging streaming providers for using Dolby Imaginative and prescient, the corporate makes use of these distributors as evangelists for the format and permits them to promote it at a premium. characteristic. Dolby Imaginative and prescient has acquired assist from many providers, together with Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max.

Dolby CFO Robert Park described this association as a key think about Dolby Imaginative and prescient’s success throughout a latest hearth chat. “It was nice to have distribution companions prepared to distribute our know-how,” Park stated. “If we tried to monetize all the things on this ecosystem, you’ll most likely see a number of the manufacturers you see at this time. Play is the place we become profitable and we get our share.”

The corporate is poised to repeat this success story in audio, the place providers like Apple Music are betting on Dolby Atmos to grow to be the de facto normal for spatial audio.

Some corporations are attempting to create another underneath the umbrella of the Open Media Alliance, whose members embrace Amazon, Google, Netflix, Meta and Samsung. The group is at the moment growing a brand new audio format referred to as Immersive Audio Container, which goals to offer 3D experiences utilizing numerous open codecs.

Nonetheless, the Immersive Audio Container challenge is unlikely to compete with the Dolby Atmos model alone. That is why Google now desires to create a brand new umbrella band for each HDR10+ and 3D immersive audio that can be led by an business discussion board and made accessible free to {hardware} producers and repair suppliers.

Google has quite a lot of affect on {hardware} producers

Along with making these new codecs accessible without spending a dime, Google desires so as to add performance past what Dolby Atmos and Imaginative and prescient provide, making them extra engaging to machine producers and shoppers. On the audio facet, this consists of extra flexibility round all kinds of audio setups.

For video, Google desires to concentrate on capturing, permitting shoppers to report video in HDR10+ after which share it through YouTube and different providers. “We wish customers to have the ability to shoot in these premium codecs and get higher high quality movies,” Baliga advised machine producers throughout his presentation.

“If we tried to monetize all the things on this ecosystem, you’d most likely see a number of the manufacturers you see at this time.”

Google is in a superb place to pressure the business to undertake Undertaking Caviar. Apple threw its assist behind Dolby Imaginative and prescient, however the format acquired close to zero assist from Android telephone producers, giving Google the chance to introduce a royalty-free different with a significant concentrate on video seize.

On the similar time, Google has quite a lot of affect over the producers of good TVs and streaming units, with YouTube being a must have app. Google had beforehand used this impact to pressure corporations like Roku to assist the AV1 video codec, and it might achieve this once more to advance Undertaking Caviar.

Elevated competitors for Dolby might have vital monetary penalties. The corporate nonetheless makes most of its cash with its legacy codecs, however Dolby Atmos and Dolby Imaginative and prescient have been the quickest rising elements of the enterprise. Dolby generated 25% of its income in fiscal 2021 from Atmos, Imaginative and prescient and imaging patents, in keeping with Park, who advised audiences on the William Blair forty second Annual Development Shares Convention in June that he expects the enterprise to totally develop. over time it can develop to be as huge as Dolby’s outdated codec enterprise.

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