September 22, 2022
Image: Alexander Shatov/Unsplash
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Thursday, we’re exploring why Google is taking on Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. Also: A new Chromecast, better WebAR, and synthetic stock photos.
Google is doubling down on open media: The company is getting ready to take on Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision with a pair of royalty-free formats for HDR video and 3D audio, I was first to report yesterday.
Internally known as Project Caviar, this represents one of the most significant efforts to get the industry to adopt open media formats since Google first began investing in the development of video codecs over a decade ago.
This isn’t Google’s first rodeo in open media. The company acquired the codec maker On2 in 2009 and went on to open source On2’s video codecs. Google also played a major role in the founding of the Alliance for Open Media and its subsequent development of the AV1 video codec.
The situation is a bit different for Project Caviar. Dolby has opted to make Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision free to all streaming services, and essentially uses Netflix and its competitors as brand ambassadors. So why does Google care if Dolby charges hardware makers a few bucks for adding Atmos and Vision to their devices?
There’s also the impact these royalties can have on future innovations. Right now, Atmos is primarily being added to sound bars and wireless earbuds, and Vision is mostly being used to enhance Hollywood fare on big-screen TVs.
In other words: Google wants to save some money on these formats today, but it also wants to make sure that Dolby doesn’t become a major headache for its business in the future.
— Janko Roettgers
Software is changing payments and banks should care: At Modern Treasury, we built a platform to complement banks’ existing products to help them prepare for a future led by software. We’re here to help them future-proof their business so that they can participate in and lead in the next phase of financial services.
Google officially releases Chromecast HD
Preempting its own fall hardware release event, Google officially introduced the Chromecast with Google TV HD streaming adapter today. The device, which I first told you about in January, is essentially a 1080p version of the existing Chromecast with Google TV streamer. It even ships with the same remote.
The big news: Google is selling the device for just $29.99, putting it squarely into the inflation gadgets category.
Niantic is bringing its location-based AR tech to the web
Following its acquisition of web-based AR startup 8th Wall in March, Niantic has now combined its own developer tools with 8th Wall’s WebAR SDK. The result, which the company calls Lightship VPS for Web, will allow developers to build lightweight AR experiences that can be anchored to specific locations and don’t require people to download dedicated apps.
"At Niantic, we believe that the real-world metaverse should get people exploring and connecting in the world around them," CEO John Hanke said in a press release. "We can't wait to see what location-based AR experiences our developer community will create with this new tool."
— Janko Roettgers
YouTube plans to start sharing revenue with Shorts creators. The video service aims to expand its creator program to Shorts sometime early next year.
Spotify is adding audiobooks to its catalog. The music service is offering more than 300,000 titles from major publishers for sale; Spotify is also considering subscription and ad-supported options for audiobooks.
Logitech will sell its cloud gaming handheld for $300 at launch. The device features a 7-inch screen and will offer access to Xbox Cloud Gaming, Steam Link, and NVIDIA GeForce Now, and will cost $350 following its introductory discount.
The theme park industry is rediscovering VR. Some ride operators have also started to experiment with AR glasses.
Why Snap shut down Zenly. Snap didn’t want to sell the social mapping platform and decided to pull the plug instead, according to insiders.
Warner Music names YouTube exec Robert Kyncl as its new CEO. Kyncl previously served as YouTube’s chief business officer and led the service’s original content initiatives.
Sony believes in Hollywood-like windowing for PS Plus. PlayStation Indies head Shuhei Yoshida said at an industry event that the company wants to keep charging for new titles before they become available to subscribers of its PS Plus service, much like Hollywood has done with movies that premiere in theaters before becoming more widely available.
77% of gamers play multiplayer games. That’s just one of the tidbits in Unity’s new Multiplayer Report, which the company released this week.
Now this is interesting: Getty Images has banned AI-generated media from its service. Creators are not allowed to upload any images made with DALL-E, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, or similar services.
“There are real concerns with respect to the copyright of outputs from these models and unaddressed rights issues with respect to the imagery, the image metadata and those individuals contained within the imagery,” Getty Images CEO Craig Peters told The Verge about this step.
Perhaps Peters was also turned off by AI-generated images with watermarks that look suspiciously like those from Getty and its competitor Shutterstock, suggesting that these stock photo sites are being used as training data.
However, Getty’s decision makes me wonder what we will see first: a stock photo site that only hosts AI-generated images, or a stock photo site for AI where you can buy training data in bulk to feed your algorithms with copyright-cleared photos?
— Janko Roettgers
Software is changing payments and banks should care: Activities that once took place in person or over the phone—getting a loan, making a payment, investing in a security—now occur entirely within software. Covid has only accelerated this trend. To remain a part of clients' financial lives, banks need to play well with software.
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