WebRTC and the Ubiquity of Video Communications: Why It Matters…A Lot

WebRTC, which stands for web real-time communications, is one of the hottest topics in the video communications industry, and for good reason. In a nutshell, WebRTC enables a user to connect over video without having to download a software client or plug-in, and no username or password is required. Basically, all a user needs is a webcam, an Internet connection and the right browser (latest versions of Mozilla or Chrome, for example) and they can connect over video with colleagues, partners, vendors or customers with the touch of a button.

But why does this matter so much?

There is still a bit of complexity associated with video conferencing: plug-ins, software clients, usernames, passwords and difficult-to-navigate UIs. LifeSize’s goal is to strip away all of the complexity and allow users to make a call in seconds, just like making a phone call. WebRTC is a perfect example of this, and definitely a step in the right direction towards the ubiquity of video.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

According to Metcalfe’s law, the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system. This means that in order for video collaboration to truly take off, more users must be utilizing the technology. Think of it as the “Facebook effect.”

When Facebook started in 2004, only Harvard students were able to create profiles and interact with other members. Even if Facebook was open to users at other colleges, the average person wouldn’t find much value in it because they simply wouldn’t know the other people on the platform. Why bother with social networking if you don’t even know anyone on the social network? However, once the platform skyrocketed, it became commonplace to have a profile because everyone else did. Simply put, the value of Facebook is the fact that you can interact with almost everyone you know. You are on it, because everyone else is on it.

Video collaboration works the exact same way. The more people you can call, the more you will use the technology. LifeSize is aiming to break down the barriers of usage and make it easier than ever before to call anyone, anywhere.

If you and your business associates are looking for a way to connect over video, or just want to try out the technology for the first time, we recommend trying LifeSize’s new WebRTC beta application. Here’s how:

How to Use LifeSize WebRTC in Three Easy Steps:

Step 1: Simply type in the web address (www.lifesize.com/webrtc) in your Google Chrome browser (download it here, if you don’t already have it) or click this link

Note: You may have to “temporarily allow pop-ups” to link your webcam to your WebRTC browser.

Step 2: Plug in your web cam (or use your embedded camera)

Step 3: Put the following dial string in (it may already be typed in for you): 1000@webrtc.lifesize.com and click to call

Please note that this is an open bridge for all of our WebRTC test users, so you may meet some new friends or see a few demo sites (the Austin skyline, for example). Also, in order to accommodate all of the users who want to try this application, we must limit calls to 60 minutes. However, you can always hang up and dial back in for the clock to reset.

If you have never tried video conferencing before, this is by far the easiest way to give it a test drive. You will be amazed with how simple it is to get started, and how much more productive video collaboration is than any other form of technology. Enjoy!

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3 Responses to WebRTC and the Ubiquity of Video Communications: Why It Matters…A Lot

  1. Jay Daley says:

    It is good to see a VC company welcoming WebRTC rather than blocking it. I’m one of your LifeSize 220 customers and I would be ecstatic if people could use a WebRTC client to directly connect in to the 220 system. So no bridge, no additional software installed on their device, just a straight connection. When do you think you will enable this? As I understand it all you need to do is provide a firmware upgrade to the 220 systems that installs the WebRTC codecs and protocols, all of which are open source under the BSD license.

    • jsteele says:

      Jay,
      For now, the WebRTC application is just an experiment. Stay tuned though, we may be able to integrate this feature into our product portfolio in the future!
      Thanks,
      Julie

      • Jay Daley says:

        Thanks for replying Julie. I wonder if you’ve had a chance to think through this a bit more? While introducing a WebRTC bridge product is undoubtedly a good move, if that’s all you do and your existing customers are forced to use that to use WebRTC clients with their existing kit then we are going to go elsewhere. After all, just how are you going to pay for all the bandwidth and kit to make that work. Like many people I talk to, I’m holding off buying more kit because I don’t want to buy something that is obsolete within a year. If you commit to retrofitting WebRTC support to the LifeSize 220 kit allowing direct WebRTC connections then you benefit in so many ways. Please make a commitment!

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