Google said to be working on free alternatives to Dolby Atmos and Vision

Google is reportedly working on free alternatives to Dolby Vision and Atmos
(Image credit: Sony)

Dolby could be in trouble. Google is said to be working on competitors to Dolby's Vision HDR and Atmos 3D audio technologies. What's more, unlike Dolby's offerings, they would be free for manufacturers to use. 

The products come under the working title Project Caviar, Protocol reports. By eliminating the licensing fee, Google could offer the technologies to hardware manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung and LG for free. Which could help bring down the prices we consumers pay for AV products such as TVs, soundbars and home cinema systems. Alternatively, the manufacturers could keep the profits and reinvest them into making ever more impressive devices.

While Google doesn't have Dolby's cachet in the AV area, it is a household name thanks to its numerous other businesses (search, Android, Maps, Google TV etc), so many punters would happily buy a TV or soundbar with Google's technologies listed among its skillset.

Google shared its plans with hardware manufacturers on the quiet earlier this year. While it didn't mention Dolby by name during the presentation, group product manager Roshan Baliga did say: "We realised that there are premium media experiences where there aren’t any great royalty-free solutions."

He added that the aim was to build “a healthier, broader ecosystem” for premium media experiences.

The initial plan for Project Caviar is apparently to beef up YouTube's AV skills, as the video sharing site currently supports neither Dolby Atmos nor Dolby Vision. But the big G is also eyeing up offering it to hardware partners as an alternative to Dolby's paid-for technologies.

Google isn't the first to try to undercut Dolby in this area. Samsung developed HDR10+ to avoid paying a license for Dolby Vision. However, despite being offered to other manufacturers royalty-free, HDR10+ hasn't taken off in the same way as Dolby Vision.


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

  • manicm
    Google is stupid, HDR 10+ is free and evolving, why do we need another format?
  • toymotor
    at first it might be free but this is google the most intrusive organisation. You will pay one way or another once they have the market sewn up.