Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) applications emerge as the tech stabilizes

Work remains to be done, but WebRTC is being put to use in a range of vertical markets

Perhaps the single-most significant standards based technological advancement in the field of unified communications over the past year has been the completion of Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) standard and the appearance of several WebRTC based implementations.

WebRTC 1.0 APIs are defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the IETF (Internet Engineering Taskforce) RTCWeb Working Group, and they make it possible for Web browsers to support voice calling, video chat, and peer-to-peer connections.

There has been considerable stabilization of the WebRTC browser implementation over the past year or so, enabling much more robust WebRTC apps to be developed. On the other hand, there still remains considerable and substantial work to be done on the IETF protocols for WebRTC.  

Since the dawn of the WebRTC era, IT professionals have created different strategies depending on the specific needs of their industry. Broadly speaking, developers are strategically using WebRTC in three ways:

  • The most common model is to create WebRTC onramps to legacy collaboration applications. This extends those applications to a broader range of users on a broader range of platforms.
  • Second, there are a host of companies building new collaboration applications based solely on WebRTC. They can leverage the flexibility and development speed of an environment unencumbered by the need to support existing workflows and equipment.
  • Finally, there are a smaller set of companies who are using WebRTC to develop new collaboration capabilities while retaining the ability to integrate with existing mission-critical networks and workflows. 

These three thrusts have resulted in a growing rich ecosystem of open-source software that innovators and early-movers can adopt to jumpstart their WebRTC-based solutions.

Current day WebRTC verticals

Today we are seeing WebRTC implementations across a cross-section of vertical markets. This is a direct result of the significant time developers have invested to make WebRTC one of the most stable and versatile communications tools available today.

Retail: Because of its stability, huge retailers, including Amazon, are using WebRTC based applications to enable their customer service programs. Amazon has enabled Kindles and Fire phones to run WebRTC. Amazon’s devices have a button to click that connects consumers with customer service representatives within ten seconds. This ability is just one example that demonstrates confidence in the future of WebRTC.

Healthcare: Telehealth is an area that absolutely demands consistent high-level performance. This need is why firms such as TruClinic, Claris Healthcare and Regroup Therapy are relying on WebRTC to bring patients and healthcare professionals together faster. Of course with telehealth there is the added need for security and WebRTC is flexible enough to allow developers to build in technology for doctors to validate the identity of their patients as well as protect their patients documents. One of the key strengths of WebRTC is its flexibility.

The number of different industries that are implementing WebRTC functionality into their apps speaks volumes about how advanced the API is and hints at what it might be capable of in the future. Aside from telehealth and customer service, WebRTC is currently being implemented by social networking companies, gaming companies, telecommunications, video conferencing and more.

WebRTC of the future

WebRTC as a viable technology is coming of age in 2015, and although it has a long list of enhancements slated before it reaches its full potential, the presently implanted applications of the technology are very encouraging. 

In order to reach its potential, developers will need to reach agreements and further define the standards that will define the broader WebRTC . Some of the most pressing standards on which developers will need to align include,screen capture APIs,Depth Camera (3D range images), and Simulcast video. Developers in the WebRTC community have made huge progress in 2015 and we expect that process will continue over the next few years.

On the business level, the community will move on from the question of “how to make money from WebRTC?” and begin to demonstrate how to use WebRTC to reach and service existing users and encourage existing business models to use the technology in effective ways.

For WebRTC to deliver on its full potential, it will need to hit two key milestones. First, it needs to gain wide spread acceptance from Microsoft and Apple. Google’s support is certainly important, but the other two major players need to weigh in to ensure it is pervasive. Second, it needs to incorporate wider support for video codecs. This will allow it to incorporate more forms of media and offer more solutions to developers. While there is much work to be done, WebRTC has already proven itself to be a major advancement in the field of Unified Communications and the future is bright.

This story, "Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) applications emerge as the tech stabilizes" was originally published by Network World.

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