Daala is a video coding format under development by the Xiph.Org Foundation under the lead of Timothy B. Terriberry mainly sponsored by the Mozilla Corporation. Like Theora and Opus, Daala is available free of any royalties and its reference implementation is being developed as free and open-source software. The name is taken from the fictional character of Admiral Natasi Daala from the Star Wars universe.
The reference implementation is written in C and published, together with its source code, as free software under the terms of a BSD-like license. Software patents are being filed for techniques used in and developed for Daala. Those patents are freely licensed to everybody to use for any purpose. However, the patent holders reserve the right to use them to counter patent infringement lawsuits filed by others.
Since June 20, 2013, the development is accompanied by a series of sporadically published posts on the underlying technology on the website of the Xiph.Org Foundation. The Daala project is one of the collaborators in the IETF's NETVC project.
Daala is aimed to be a suitable proposal for a new video coding standard for the Internet and real-time applications. Therefore, it is meant to be usable free from patent licensing constraints and to be openly documented to enable widespread adoption. Also, it is being designed to cover a broad spectrum of use cases.
Daala is projected to eventually perform as well as if not better than other modern formats. The developers want to rely less on improving traditional design principles incrementally as such effort is observed to deliver decreasing returns after many years, and tends to grow complexity. (All widely adopted designs to date share the same basic design that dates back to H.261 from two decades ago.) Instead, the higher risk of researching and trying new basic techniques is expected to yield unprecedented and potentially more useful algorithms. Such an approach also makes software patent infringement less likely.
Moreover, possibilities for parallel processing are considered and hardware support is being pursued.
Daala is intended to be a high-efficiency video coding format for use cases similar to those of High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC or H.265) and VP9. It has been stated that the performance goal is to be a generation beyond HEVC and VP9.