What is WebRTC?
WebRTC is a free and open project (backed by Google, Mozilla and Opera, among others) that empowers browsers and mobile applications with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities with the help of simple APIs and without the need of any external plugins. A detailed architecture of WebRTC is given below. The best example to try out WebRTC would be Firefox Hello, which makes it possible for users to have free video and voice calls directly from their Firefox browser without having to set up an account.
Why is WebRTC a Game-Changing Technology
With so much already done to the web with HTML5 and other web technologies like Angular.js, Backbone.js etc. one of the last major challenges for the web is to enable Real Time human communication via voice and video.
From the user end
- Many web services already use RTC, but need downloads, native apps or plugins. These includes Skype, Facebook (which uses Skype) and Google Hangouts (which use the Google Talk plugin).
- Downloading, installing and updating plugins can be complex, error prone and annoying.
- Plugins can be difficult to deploy, debug, troubleshoot, test and maintain—and may require licensing and integration with complex, expensive technology. It's often difficult to persuade people to install plugins in the first place!
From the service provider end
- The traditional systems burdens enterprise end users and their IT departments with complicated implementations.
- Legacy systems tend to be proprietary and limits the use of same platform by all participants.
- The very proprietary nature of traditional video conferencing thereby becomes expensive with high costs associated with the purchase of hardware equipment and proprietary software installations.
- The high costs thereby have dissuaded small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from adopting video-based conferencing into their organization’s communications strategy.
With these challenges and many more, the web-community felt a strong urge for a next-generation HTML5 technology, that would allow peer-to-peer communications right in the browser - users can video chat, voice call, play a game, send files and share screens as easily as they can switch tabs on a website.
- WebRTC-based communication is easy to use as it only requires end users to open the URL in a browser to enter into a video conference/screen sharing.
- WebRTC-based communication are compatible across browsers and multi-devices and do not impose the need to install browser plug-ins or software client downloads.
- WebRTC-based communications are affordable and cut down on costs as they completely eliminate the dependency on purchasing costly infrastructure devices
Salesforce and WebRTC
Cloud-based services as we know are accessed either via mobile devices or mostly by browsers and with the above discussion it is evident that WebRTC is all about bringing (and thereby easing) communication directly into the browser. So it is quite natural to have both of these technologies integrated which would create huge implications across all sectors: banking, education, healthcare, entertainment, ecommerce – to name only a few. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, appear.in are among some of the apps who are already using WebRTC.
The cloud-based service approach has already been set to rapidly accelerate the adoption of browser based communication among millions of SMEs. Given below are a list from Tokbox describing how some of the innovative companies are leveraging WebRTC in their respective verticals:
- Banking - The UK’s Coutts Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has launched video-enabled consultations for their customers and advisers around the globe.
- Education - Minerva’s Active Learning Forum technology platform enables educators to conduct each class via live video. Students benefit from in-context communication, including collaborative debates, quizzes and polls as well as more traditional tutorial discussions.
- Health Services - BeMyEyes is an iOS app matching blind people who need assistance with a network of volunteers willing to help. The helpers can see and describe in words exactly what is in front of the visually impaired person.
Field Services - Fluke created a mobile app to keep teams connected both in the office and out in the field, consulting in real-time to solve issues on site.
- Retail - Bridgestone Golf’s online video consultation kiosk B-FIT lets golfers talk live to product experts to learn which Bridgestone golf ball would be best for them.
Salesforce being the top player in providing services in the above verticals there is a huge scope of it being integrated to WebRTC. In the upcoming posts we will see simple code and demo for the below 2 integration's and their respective use cases.