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Breaking the Cliché: Different Real Time Communications Applications Emerge

December 03, 2015

The simplest use for adding real time communications (RTC) to anything is: Add voice or video to an existing application.  There’s a whole lot of that going on these days, ranging from Google Hangouts to SAP, with the latter company announcing it will resell GENBAND’s Kandy WebRTC suite for companies wanting to add RTC directly into enterprises for customization and personalization of engagement between employees and customers. But a number of companies are looking beyond the “Just add voice/video” aspect to RTC for more unique and complex solutions.

One possibility is building your own Periscope clone with WebRTC. The Infrared5 consulting group has demonstrated how its Red5 Pro open source streaming server can be used to build a Periscope streaming server and client using APIs in about 10 minutes. The tricky part for stock WebRTC is being able to take a single media stream and being able to mirror/relay it to multiple clients, rather than having a simple peer-to-peer streaming session as you get in a baseline implementation of WebRTC.  Infrared5 Pro is in the process of adding WebRTC support to Red5 Pro, so in theory one should be able to take the basics of the Red5 Pro implementation and do some jiggering to support a “pure” WebRTC-based client side implementation in the future; you will likely want to keep Red5 Pro on the server side to enable publishing a stream for recording and watching by multiple live subscribers.,

Minecraft fans – you know who you are – are likely to be fascinated with Verizon’s hack to put a cell phone emulation into the environment, enabling players to make and receive video calls, take in-game selfies by combining the virtual phone with a stick, and even translate a web page into a version that can be viewed on the Minecraft Verizon phone. Everything in Minecraft is built with blocks, so Verizon built a transcoder between real time communications forms and Minecraft. Video is going to look, well, ‘blocky’ and so will selfie pictures and web sites. For Minecraft purists who have recreated word processors and computers in BlockForm, a cell phone in the world is likely to either be something very cool or too close to the real world.

What if you could get rid of your computer and run everything virtually? No more configuration issues, no more software, just pull up a web browser and move everything into the cloud? Paperspace uses WebRTC and other technologies to do just that for Apple users, without having to fuss with downloading a heavy client.  Computing and storage is kept within the cloud, with the ability to apply much larger compute power on problems without the capital expense of having to buy a loaded desktop machine for graphics design, CAD/CAE, or other heavy-duty jobs. It’s a radical approach that has a “Back to the Future” flavor if you think about how everyone used to be tied into mainframes in the decades before PCs.

Speaking of “Back to the Future,” does anyone remember home intercom systems first seen in ‘60s-era houses? The concept served as the inspiration for the Nucleus home intercom system, blending the ability to make room-to-room video calls with more traditional calling and the ability to control Nest and other home automation devices. Nucleus uses a combination of custom-built, tablet based hardware – think of mounting a tablet on the wall in place of the home intercom system – with mobile client software and the ability to “intercom” to any device running the client software.

Google Glass may have belly-flopped in its first iteration, but other companies have taken idea of a wearable eyeframe solution and applied it to enterprise uses.  XOEye Technologies builds customized solutions for the industrial marketplace, using Vuzix and other wearable Smart Glasses computing devices to aid in remote support, training, workflow enhancement, and other applications.  For example, a maintenance worker can “show” a particular problem via wearable video to a support center, then document a repair as it is being performed.  The video can then be reviewed to improve procedures and processes and used for training. 

All of these examples show how real time communication can move beyond the simple “Just add voice/video” model into more innovative and value-additive forms.  What’s your outside-the-box RTC application?

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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