WebRTC Expert Feature

August 01, 2013

Chromecast and WebRTC

With Chromecast out and shipping, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the implications for WebRTC apps. While most of the Chromecast discussions focus on streaming video and audio from the cloud, another key function of Chromecast is the ability to "mirror" your Chrome browser window into the television the Chromecast device is connected to. What is interesting is that this connection actually uses WebRTC to send the content to Chromecast.

While the entertainment options for Chromecast are obvious, the potential for other applications using WebRTC are significant. There appears to be three potential uses of Chromecast beyond entertainment:

  • With Chromecast plugged into the monitor of a room video system, any device using Chrome, can share web content with the room. Since Chrome has the ability to share the screen, this may work as well. Of course, the applications will have to come up with how to share to other rooms.
  • As the Chromecast device is WebRTC enabled, it seems that it should be possible to include it directly in a WebRTC- based conference as an "output participant". In other words, the camera does not have to facilitate the monitor; it is just paired logically where the inbound video to a conference comes from the camera and the outbound goes directly to the monitor through Chromecast. This assumes that Chromecast cannot be the transmitter due to HDMI limitations in the reverse direction for video (there is a reverse audio channel in HDMI, but not video). 

  • As the Chromecast device responds to WebRTC, it should be possible to build new WebRTC-based apps to use this capability for displays. For example, real-time adaptive advertising could use WebRTC to stream to a display based on other factors. Or potentially, the control of a display could be auctioned, and then content could be streamed to the display using Chromecast and WebRTC. The applications in healthcare could also be significant, as it becomes easy to grab the display in a patient room and stream WebRTC content to it. For example, a nurse could have a tablet and the doctor could be on a large display.

I fully expect to see some interesting demos in Santa Clara in November at WebRTC Conference and Expo using Chromecast.   We will have to have the capability to have a Chromecast device plugged into the video system to display those demos, but that is easy after all, to the AV folks it is just a HDMI input. Hope to see you there!

Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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