WebRTC is…everywhere. WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a technology that allows Web browsers to stream audio or video media, as well as to exchange useful data between browsers, mobile platforms, and IoT devices without requiring an intermediary such as a server.
The need to connect virtually and to have video conferences and communications via the web has been around for a while. In the past, you had to rely on plug-ins or an installable application on your PC – not just your web browser. This was very inconvenient as users were required to install additional, incompatible apps, and developers had to study complex stacks and protocols to make the magic happen.
Photo: Swedish Prime Minister Tage Erlander uses an Ericsson video to speak with Lennart Hyland, a popular TV show host (1969). Image via Wikipedia.
WebRTC Was Born
Many of WebRTC technology’s underpinnings were first developed by Global IP Solutions (or GIPS), a company founded around 1999 in Sweden. In 2011, GIPS was acquired by Google, and the W3C started to work on a standard for WebRTC (real-time communication). WebTRC specifies a series of APIs for real-time communications (RTC) targeted at browsers. Since 2011, Google and other major players in the web-browser market, such as Mozilla and Opera, have been actively supporting WebRTC.
Today companies trust WebRTC to offer them the leverage they need to deliver the user experience they strive for.
Examples of WebTRC
WebRTC is a set of plugin-free APIs that can be used in both desktop and mobile browsers. WebRTC does not need any native apps for audio and video communication as it allows peer-to-peer communication on the web pages. Some of the top companies like Amazon and Facebook are all leveraging this, but Google Meet (or more accurately, Hangouts) is probably one of the main reasons we have WebRTC today.
Google had their own video conferencing service, working from Gmail, but it needed a plugin. Real-time video just wasn’t there in the browser, which is where and why WebRTC started.
There are so many interesting use cases for WebRTC, but here are a few popular ones you may not have considered:
- Simple collaboration: How many times have you been invited to a meeting, and as soon as you clicked on the link, it asked you to sign up or download an app before you could join the call? It can be frustrating to open an account or download a platform to engage in a business meeting. WebRTC removes this barrier, providing a seamless, non-invasive way to connect and collaborate. Using WebRTC when communicating with colleagues, clients, and business partners is easier, simpler, and more convenient.
- Contextual applications: You can use a third party API like OAuth to pull data from services like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. This API type makes it possible for customers to leverage their own social graph data to augment their experience within your websites and applications. You can then couple this data with WebRTC-powered features to enable rich contextual communications. This could enable easy sharing of the person’s Twitter handle, email address, or other public profile information, along with links to their most recent tweets or Facebook posts.
- File sharing: Suppose you want to send a massive file to a colleague while working on a project. Instead of emailing the file or uploading it to a third-party cloud storage system (and waiting several minutes for the transfer to complete), you could send it directly through your web browser using WebRTC’s data channel, with very low-latency and the benefit of full encryption between the two endpoints.
- Embedded endpoints: ATMs. Vending machines. Bus stops. Retail store kiosks. All of these endpoints can be embedded with WebRTC engines. It’s an easy way to connect customers with live agents while they are on-the-go.
- Sales enablement: Websites and applications are key tools for sales enablement. Customers rarely make important purchases on impulse. Decisions are often made after speaking with a sales associate. Providing a website or application with a WebRTC audio or video contact channel is a great way to provide ongoing assistance throughout the purchasing process.
- Emergency response: In some cases, WebRTC is being used to increase public safety. SaferMobility streamlines real-time interactions with authorities by enabling video, audio, and text communications while utilizing location-based awareness. This use of the WebRTC data channel allows responding personnel to have deeper insight and better information by circumventing previously existing communication barriers when responding to emergency calls.
- Patient management: Many health clinics are now using WebRTC based solutions to reduce in-office patient visits. This can be helpful during a pandemic like what we are living right now when doctors can perform check-ups over Web browsers. This allows them to allocate more time to higher priority patients while staying safe. WebRTC is also a great way for clinic staff to communicate with patients in-between visits as all the patient needs is a web browser and a URL.
- Enhanced audience participation: Tap to Speak recently developed a solution that turns smartphones into microphones during live events. The application was designed to improve communication between audience members and presenters, as it eliminates having to pass a traditional microphone around a room.
In summary, pretty much any application that wants to share data or video between peers can use WebRTC. The reason for this massive adoption is that browser to browser communication is significantly cheaper than going through a server (up to 90% cheaper from Video Banking and the Economics of the Retail Business). Furthermore, users will no longer need to rely on dedicated hardware sets and applications to join a meeting and have a video conference call; browsers are always accessible to everyone!
Sangoma Meet a Great Example of Adopting WebTRC
Sangoma Meet was launched in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis to help everyone stay connected and get through this period. With WebTRC technology behind it, Sangoma Meet allows users to start a video call without downloading a plugin or installing an application. Unlike Zoom or GoToMeeting, where you have to install a plugin or an application, Sangoma Meet is simply using your browser to establish a connection with another peer.
The ease of use and compatibility with common browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera makes it a great choice for different industries to adopt in different use cases, as mentioned earlier. Features like multiple participants video conferencing, 1:1 video calls, phone dial-in, screen sharing, recording the meeting (available on V3.0 and above), waiting room (coming soon), local chat, and moderation tools are all running on the web, and users can join the meetings from their mobile devices, laptop or simply from any device which supports web browsers.
Have you tried Sangoma Meet yet? Check out this page and enjoy having a hassle-free call with your friends, family, and colleagues.