WebRTC Expert Feature

June 05, 2014

Save WebRTC from the Hype of Internet of Things

If I hear one more name dropping of the Internet of Things, better known as IoT, in cool-cat shorthand, I'm going to scream.  Marketing people must be bored with the bastardizing of unified communications (UC) and now have decided IoT should be linked to everything - including WebRTC.  ARG! <A scream of anguish, not for National Pirate Day>

WebRTC is for people and live interactions. Voice, video, and file sharing in real time - the "RTC" is for "Real Time Communications."  You've got the Opus codec for high quality voice and audio and VP8 for video, so people can jibber jabber and make faces on events like Google Hangouts.  Without the people talking, you don't need the codecs and you don't have RTC.

The Internet of Things is for, well, things.  Ericsson predicts there will be 9 billion mobile subscribers on the planet by 2019.  More subscribers than people, which suggests you'll still have posers with multiple phones or a small segment of the population with plenty of SIM cards to swap in and out of devices.  This predication is also based upon the proliferation of wireless connections for sensors to conduct machine to machine (M2M) business.

M2M is pretty straight-forward and represents the bulk of what tech pundits and babbling marketers are calling IoT.  You have a little device happily collecting little bits of information from sensors and then reporting back the information to a server.  Since it is machine to machine, there's no need for a human being to fire up a webcam and have a chat with the shipping container on the deck of a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean or a pipeline junction out in the middle of Middle America.

Further, M2M doesn't require a lot of bandwidth or an always-on connection.  This is a big difference from the underlying principle of WebRTC and everything else Google does, where it is assumed you will always have enough connectivity to view movies and conduct Hangouts with 12 of your besties at the drop of a hate.

In a wide stretch of definitions, you could build a gatekeeper device as an IoT and set it up with a webcam so a security guard could talk with someone trying to gain access into a facility.  But it isn't really an IoT thing, because you're not keeping track of a moving object or monitoring its status.  And the interaction isn't M2M but H2H (Human to Human).

In acronym summary, let's keep M2M for IoT and WebRTC for H2H, because IoT is not designed for H2H.  Got it? 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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