The Eternal WebRTC Video Codec Debate – Consensus Finally!

Snail crossing finish line“Real life is, to most men, a long second-best, a perpetual compromise between the ideal and the possible.”  - Bertrand Russell

The world has indeed changed in the last year as WebRTC has made massive strides both from a standardization and from a market adoption point of view. A whole host of innovative applications are succeeding on mobile and desktop end-points.

But despite another 12 months of progress, one of the key points of contention that remained stubbornly unresolved was the great video codec debate: Should VP8 or H.264 be the Mandatory-to-Implement Video Codec for WebRTC? It was a welcome and surprising move that led the IETF Working Group to finally arrive at the following consensus just last week:

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The TokBox Team at WebRTC Conference & Expo

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 11.07.53 AMHere at TokBox we are preparing for the fifth WebRTC expo, taking place in San Jose next week from 18-20 November.

Since the last WebRTC expo in June, there has been a lot of action in the market;

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Why do we care about ORTC?

ORTCFor those who might not know (and are still interested in the topic?) ORTC, Object RTC, is an initiative that was started one year ago by a group of people who were not comfortable with the approach taken for the design of the WebRTC APIs.  This group recently published the first official draft of an alternative API including support from very relevant people from Google and Microsoft.

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Key Technology Challenges for the Healthcare Industry

health-care-generic-1In our last blog post, (a peek at the future of healthcare) we considered the key drivers behind innovation in the health care industry.  Telehealth has seen explosive market growth in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down. Despite its enormous potential for growth, the healthcare industry faces regulatory challenges that impede innovation.

Since the 1996 introduction of HIPAA, (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the healthcare industry has become highly regulated. The scope and complexity of healthcare regulation has made it incredibly difficult for organizations to adopt new technologies. Compared to other industries, they have been relatively slow to adopt technological innovations as a result.  This trend has manifested itself in the adoption of the public cloud, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and even the storage of online health records.  With this in mind, one can assume this trend will repeat itself when it comes to browser based real time communications powered by WebRTC.

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WebRTC Data Channels vs WebSockets

WebRTC Data channels vs. WebSocketsSignaling between client end points has always been an important facet for most interactive web applications. The use cases range from text chatting to multiplayer games to driving a robot remotely. In the world of HTML5, most developers establish signaling through websockets, long polling and server side events. However with the advent of WebRTC, data channels joined the ranks and the question posed by many developers is “Where do data channels fit in the equation?”

Data Channels provide a way to send binary / text data to another peer over the browser. The data channel api is very similar to web sockets when it comes to sending different types of data. It works peer to peer without the need of a centralized server or an additional hop in most cases.

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