At a closed event with manufacturers, Google described Project Caviar, which is developing media for HDR video and spatial audio, which will be free alternatives to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
Project Caviar solutions will be integrated into YouTube, a platform that does not support Dolby technology. Google seeks to involve other industry players, including equipment manufacturers and device suppliers. The company began working in this area more than a decade ago: in 2009, it absorbed the developer of On2 video codes to open the source code of some of its decisions; the company also played a significant role in Alliance for Open Media, a consortium responsible for free AV1 videos.
A distinctive feature of Project Caviar is that it is not another codec: the company is going to use existing technologies to create new formats for HDR video and 3D audio, a better image and sound, as implemented in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. The presentation manager of Google Rochan Baliga did not mention Dolby directly, but noted that licensing costs "may harm producers and consumers".
Dolby's share of the revenue is not disclosed, but in the case of Xbox's consoles, it is $15 in addition. According to some reports, Dolby Vision's royalties range from $2 to $2; Dolby Atmos' fees are not disclosed, but in the case of Xbox's consoles, they amount to $15 in addition. One of the manufacturers of the TV apps with a wholesale price of $50 pays two dollars each for the use of Dolby Vision and Dolby Digital. With the strength of the pay decision, Samsung tried to fight, which, with the participation of other players, developed HDR10+ technology, but its licensed alternative, Dolby Vision, is already supported by services such as Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max.
A free solution for space sound is now being developed by Alliance for Open Media, which includes Amazon, Google, Netflix, Meta* and Samsung, a format called Immersive Audio Container, but it is unlikely that it will be able to resist Dolby's marketing without support. Therefore, Google, as part of Project Caviar, has decided to ensure that alternatives to Vision and Atmos offer more opportunities: a wide set of sound settings for spatial audio and support for filming in HDR10+, with the possibility of easier downloading materials on YouTube and other services.
For Dolby, the emergence of a powerful competition can have serious financial consequences: in 2021, 25% of the company's revenues came from Atmos, Vision and patents on image output technology, but in the long run, the company wants to earn as much as it does on codecs.
* Listed on the list of voluntary associations and religious organizations in respect of which the court has taken a legally enforceable decision to abolish or prohibit activities on the grounds provided for in Federal Act No. 114-FZ of 25 July 2002 on countering extremist activities.