Music Tech

Google takes on Dolby Atmos audio, Vision video with free open formats

Google is working to launch new open source 3D audio and HDR video without the licensing fees hardware manufacturers and consumers currently have to pay to use Dolby Atmos audio and Dolby Vision video.

Google shared its plans, code-named Project Caviar, at a closed event with hardware manufacturers earlier this year.

In a video of the event seen by online new source Protocol, product manager Roshan Baliga described the goal of the project as building “a healthier, broader ecosystem” for premium audio and video media experiences.

YouTube, which does not currently support Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision, will likely be the first place that Project Cavier is used widely. But for real consumer adoption – which seems to be Google’s goal – device manufacturers and service providers will need to be onboard.

Dolby does not publicly disclose its licensing fees for Atmos audio, but it charges consumers who want to add it to Xbox consoles $15 per license. The fee hardware manufacturers pay is said to be much lower and likely closer to the $2 to $3 per license that Dolby charges TV manufacturers.

In the Fiscal year 2021, Dolby generated 25% of revenue from Atmos, Vision, and its imaging patents, according to a company report to investors.

THE TAKEAWAY:

For the manufacturers, particularly of lower-cost devices, fees to use Dolby Atmos or Vision add up and can stifle innovation.

For creators, having unlimited access to free and open-source 3D audio and HDR video unlocks endless possibilities.


Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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