12 interesting uses for WebRTC
Friday, February 24, 2017
Getting started with WebRTC for real-time browser communications through a mobile app.
Editor's note: Guest submission by Sherwin Sim, CTO of Temasys Communications
If you’re new to Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC), you may be under the impression that this technology is similar to Microsoft Skype - a free, Web-based chat service.
It’s more than that. WebRTC is actually a far different animal, altogether.
Unlike Skype, WebRTC is an open source project which makes it possible to incorporate embedded real-time communication features directly into websites and mobile applications. It’s a game-changing communications standard with endless possibilities for innovation.
Here are 12 interesting ways to use WebRTC that you may not have considered:
1. Contextual applications: You can use a third party API like OAuth to pull data from services like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. This type of API 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. It’s possible, for instance, to have a video interview where WebRTC’s data channel is used to send a stream of relevant and contextual data as an overlay to what’s seen by participants, complementing the live video chat. 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.
2. 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, with the benefit of full encryption between the two endpoints.
3. 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.
4. 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. Outfitting a website or application with a WebRTC audio or video contact channel is a great way to provide ongoing assistance throughout the purchasing process.
5. Simple collaboration: It can be frustrating to have 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 often more convenient.
6. Multiparty conferencing: Did you know you can create a multi-user video conference using WebRTC? One of the easiest ways to do this is to set up a mesh solution, which involves each user establishing a direct, peer to peer connection with one another. How many users you can connect at once depends on your hardware and bandwidth, but you can scale up to more users by using multipoint control units (MCUs) and selective forwarding units (SFUs).
7. Emergency response: In some cases, WebRTC is being used to increase public safety. SaferMobility streamlines real-time interactions with authorities by enabling video, audio, text communications while also 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.
8. Patient management: Many health clinics are now using WebRTC based solutions to reduce in-office patient visits. Doctors can now perform checkups over Web browsers. This allows them to allocate more time to higher priority patients. 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.
9. Broadcasting: WebRTC may not be ideal for broadcasting, but you can use it to distribute one-way media transmissions like podcasts, speeches, concerts and videos. And using a solution like PubNub, which uses web sockets, you can even access real time attendance information.
10. Screen sharing: You can’t control someone else’s screen using WebRTC, but you can use it to share a screen. You can build a little extension package for browsers like Firefox and Chrome to enable screen sharing, and some third party platform providers like TokBox and Temasys provide code examples and support for screen sharing through their SDKs.
11. Support “Unsupported” Browsers: You may have heard that WebRTC is not supported for people using Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple Safari desktop web browsers. That’s only partly true. Microsoft is slowly building WebRTC-compatible support into its latest browser, Edge, but that neglects the many people still using installed versions of Internet Explorer. And, Apple has yet to launch WebRTC support for Safari. Some vendors provide plugins that allow WebRTC services work in Internet Explorer and Safari, alleviating “interoperability” concerns.
12. 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.
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