A new leak suggests that Google could launch its own 3D audio and HDR formats. Codenamed “Project Caviar,” Google’s new home theater formats may lack any licensing fees, effectively giving manufacturers a free alternative to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
The details of “Project Caviar” were uncovered by Protocol, which obtained a video of Google showcasing its technology to various hardware manufacturers. In the video, which remains unpublished, project manager Roshan Baliga describes “Caviar” as a necessary step in a “healthier, broader ecosystem.”
It seems that the primary goal of “Project Caviar” is YouTube integration. Currently, YouTube does not support Dolby Vision or Atmos. And while YouTube loosely supports plain old HDR, the implementation is awful. (By and large, Google tries to avoid Dolby’s formats. The Chromecast is a rare exception.)
To be clear, Google could simply embrace Dolby’s home theater formats. But the company doesn’t seem too happy about licensing fees. Dolby reportedly charges $2 or $3 for each hardware device that supports Atmos or Vision. And that’s a per-unit rate, by the way. (Somewhat ironically, Dolby lets streaming services use these formats for free.)
Hardware manufacturers probably aren’t too happy about these licensing fees either. That said, Dolby Atmos and Vision are already well-established formats. The idea that a manufacturer will give up Dolby technology for “Project Caviar” is a bit of a stretch, and at best, the formats may coexist.
Or the whole “Project Caviar” thing may slowly fizzle away like HDR10+, which is also an open format.