WebRTC World Feature Article

May 08, 2014

Japanese Startup Glue Offers Free, Secure Video Conferencing Service

Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN who created the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989 and built all the tools necessary for a working Web, today we have a powerful platform where people can exchange content from plain text to images and video. Berners-Lee’s work lead to the establishment of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the WWW that is today “Leading the Web to Its Full Potential” – as its motto states. It is W3C and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that develop and promote Internet standards, support browser-to-browser applications for voice calling, video chat, and real-time communication (RTC) on the Web between browsers. As a blog post on Trilogy-LTE states, “WebRTC is as revolutionary a market disruption for telecom as HTML was for the Internet.”

Google’s released open-source project for browser-based real-time communication, known as WebRTC, is a set of standards from WC3; it provides browser-to-browser communication, allowing companies to develop toolkits and APIs that enable developers to build OTT apps. Any device can be enabled for real-time communication for users to engage in voice, video and data sharing. All users are empowered to make their own apps and include WebRTC features. The power of WebRTC does pose a risk to Skype, some say, but it may actually be the reverse; this is because Microsoft may be positioning Skype as a threat to WebRTC. Whether or not WebRTC is a “Skype killer,” is uncertain, but WebRTC applications are expected to disrupt the way we communicate online.

Preference for WebRTC or Skype is a personal choice; both offer instant messaging and voice chat between pairs of users, as well as conference calling, although there are different ways to achieve those in both. It may now appear as simply a battle between Google and Microsoft for the conquest of the Web-based video chat services market, but Fukuoka-based Glue, a Japanese four-member startup company, believes it can compete with the likes of Skype too. System engineer Kota Sakoda, founder of Glue Inc., said a new in-browser video chat communication service, 1meeting, which launched earlier this year, could someday take over the market. Making and receiving calls from other users is free of charge for both Skype and 1meeting users; however, Skype requires Microsoft account registration to use it and a plugin while 1meeting does not require users to register (they can remain anonymous) as it is built with WebRTC. It means plugins or installation are unnecessary. All users need is a supported browser and someone to chat with over the Web. Since 1meeting is entirely free and open, uninvited guests can enter the room people create if they guess their room name; however, there is the option to share the link to invite people to enter the chat room. In the near future, Glue Inc. may offer closed rooms as a paid service for those desiring a more private video chat experience.

Although 95 percent of the 1meeting users are in Japan, it does support both English and Japanese languages. Recently, Glue Inc. added a new speech-to-text feature (currently only available in Japanese), and text chat logs that can be downloaded by users to keep track of what is discussed during meetings.

Sakoda says 1meeting uses peer-to-peer communication. The service is based on WebRTC (HTML5), which means it is supported by Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera browsers – and is compatible with both PC and Android devices (although not yet supported by iOS). He explains that maintaining face time surpasses traditional services like Skype where video is sometimes delayed. Furthermore, the 1meeting website explains that video streams are sent directly between users who engage in live communication encrypted over SSL, so nothing is stored on the Glue server.

Lastly, Sakoda states the 1meeting peer-to-peer video chat experience offers better picture, sound and speech quality than the competition. It is up to consumers to try it to know for sure. All they will need to do is use their browser to open the 1meetings site and assign their room name; this will allow them, according to Sakoda, to experience a free service that has secure, anonymous video chat rooms. With a cam and mic, an unlimited number of people are able to engage in a video conference and have fun with others online, but a maximum number of five participants is advised for better quality.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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