NUBOMEDIA: FP7/2007-2013 GA-610576

WebRTC in changing the game rules and Nubomedia will play

  • WebRTC

WebRTC is an emerging technology, which is gaining significant attention by Internet and telecommunication stakeholders. WebRTC brings the promise of Real-Time Communications (RTC) in a native and standard way to WWW browsers. WebRTC is currently under heavy standardization effort both at the W3C (WebRTC WG) and at the IETF (RTCWeb WG). WebRTC does not bring any radically new technology (many different types of RTC services are already in place both in the Internet and in Telco networks), but it's producing a revolution among WWW developers because it's making possible for anyone to create in a fast and efficient manner services that were only reachable few months ago for very large corporations and after significant effort and time investments. In other words, the brilliant idea behind WebRTC is it being a development framework for the WWW and not just another RTC service.

WebRTC is currently supported in Chrome and Firefox browsers. In particular, Google is pushing very hard the creation of implementations and standards around WebRTC. Microsoft and Apple have not yet shown such deep interest. However, the WWW development community assume that both should, sooner or later, get into WWW RTC technologies either through current WebRTC ideas or through equivalent ideas that could be incorporated to latter releases of the standard.

WebRTC technologies are significantly devoted to multimedia transport. That is, taking a media stream in one place and moving it to another. This is performed quite efficiently thanks to the implementation of the ICE protocol stack, which manages to make compatible the transport requirement of RTC traffic with current Internet architectures where NATs, firewalls and proxies are pervasively putting barriers for such traffic. In addition to this, the ubiquitous availability of WWW browsers in all types of client devices makes WebRTC an ideal candidate to become a worldwide standard for production and consumption of multimedia content.

The impact of WebRTC onto NUBOMEDIA is significant and the project must take close attention to WebRTC technologies, standards and stakeholders. NUBOMEDIA has the ambition of becoming a worldwide reference infrastructure for RTC. The capabilities of NUBOMEDIA go beyond mere transport (i.e. we provide media processing, adaption, recording and augmenting), but those capabilities are useless if end-clients cannot hook into the infrastructure. In other words, NUBOMEDIA needs clients to be capable to exchange content in a universal way with the infrastructure. Of course, there are many different technologies that can be used for such objective, but WebRTC is the most important candidate. First, because it has been conceived as a browser technology. Hence, any device with a browser automatically becomes a NUBOMEDIA compatible client without requiring specific software installations or configurations. Second, because it brings built-in capabilities that are essential for NUBOMEDIA such as security, NAT traversal and FEC.

In addition to this, WebRTC introduces another very interesting feature in the orbit of NUBOMEDIA: DataChannels. This capability brings the ability of exchanging low-latency arbitrary information additional to the audio-visual stream. This is aligned with the concept of “multisensory multimedia” that NUBOMEDIA proposes and that can be useful for the creation of advanced communication services integrating all kind of sensors to users through the use of augmented reality techniques.

For all these reasons, NUBOMEDIA needs to invest in providing WebRTC support. In fact, the research team has been working in WebRTC since the beginning of the project trying to integrate WebRTC capabilities ad an NUBOMEDIA endpoint suitable for receiving and sending WebRTC media streams. NUBOMEDIA ideas in relation to WebRTC have already generated their first results. On last July, NUBOMEDIA project coordinator was nominated as one of the top worldwide innovators in WebRTC technologies in the WebRTC Conference&Expo in Atlanta.