WebRTC World Feature Article

December 11, 2012

Mozilla Uses WebRTC, Social API to Bring Live Video Chatting to Firefox


While the standardization efforts for Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) continues, Mozilla has developed video chatting for its browser, Firefox. Combining social API with WebRTC techniques, Mozilla has demonstrated live video calling and data sharing at the click of the mouse or by dragging.

The Firefox builder showcases this capability in a video, as reported by I Programmer.

WebRTC is an open project that provides Internet users with the ability to communicate in real-time via voice and video by using a real-time communications (RTC) compatible browser. While WebRTC is widely viewed as a method for enabling cool games and improving the availability of video conferencing apps, Mozilla is thinking of taking it a step further by extending it to social apps as well.

In a demo video, Mozilla’s chief of innovation, Todd Simpson, demonstrates live video calling and data sharing using WebRTC, which was introduced into Firefox Aurora in early November, according to I Programmer’s writer Ian Elliot. To demonstrate this capability, WebRTC was combined with the new social API facilities embedded in the Firefox 17.

In a company blog post, Mozilla said, “Sometimes when you’re chatting with a friend, you just want to click on their name and see and talk with them in real-time. Imagine being able to do that without any glitches or hassles, and then while talking with them, easily share almost anything on your computer or device: vacation photos, memorable videos – or even just a link to a news story you thought they might be interested in – simply by dragging the item into your video chat window.”

Two key features used in the video chatting app are highlighted in the post. These are getUserMedia, which allows a developer to easily capture the user’s camera and microphone data (with the user’s permission), and PeerConnection, which enables secure audio and video calling and provides for high quality, low delay, encrypted calls from one WebRTC browser to another.

According to the report, both of these features were difficult for the browser to perform prior to the introduction of WebRTC. Per the Mozilla blog, data sharing is done using DataChannels, which the company was one of the first to implement.

In fact, early this month, Mozilla hinted on this progress, calling it “browser sharing.” The company indicated that it is making it possible for Firefox users to video chat, instant message and share in real-time, all while browsing, as if they were in the same room. Although, Mozilla Firefox 17 with the new social API facilities was launched in late November, Firefox 18 beta with preliminary support for WebRTC was launched early this month.

According to VentureBeat, Facebook helped Mozilla build the social API that would integrate content from any social network directly to the browser. Plus, as per the VB report, Facebook claims it was the first social network to exploit such an API.

The WebRTC standardization work being carried out by W3C and IETF with support from HTML5 gives people a unique way of viewing a wide variety of content. The new platform allows Web applications to send data and media streams between devices over IP networks in a peer-to-peer fashion. The possibilities and capabilities WebRTC offers will become more visible as the technology continues to be adopted and improved on.




Edited by Rachel Ramsey




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