WebRTC Expert Feature

January 15, 2014

WebRTC is in The ZOEN

As a child, musical lessons were about the schlep. Either the instructor or the student had to go to one another, and sometimes the lesson was based on where the instrument was located. In today’s world of watching videos on the Web, it’s not surprising that The ZOEN, a provider of live online music lessons, is using Google Helpouts to make The ZOEN instructors available to teach users across the Internet musical instruments.

 In this case, The ZOEN is primarily using a teleconferencing app. There is a chat capability, but mostly it’s about the video. The Web cameras are placed where the instructor and student can watch the other’s instrument and the teacher can correct the student for any improper placements.

The company’s website recommends taking a speed test to ensure computers are optimized for the lessons: “You need a computer with a webcam and broadband internet connection to take live online music lessons on our site. The minimum recommended speed for a great lesson experience is 0.6 Mbps. Use the button below to test your setup or visit www.speedtest.net to test your connection speed.”

One aspect of this is that it truly is a real-time communication need.  At the end of the demo video, the instructor plays a few licks. The student listens but does not try to follow. Perhaps that is just the video, perhaps it’s something about delay or the student.

In a perfect world, they could do a duet.

A soundman for NPR was reminding me that ISDN still makes the hosts of Morning Edition sound like they are in the same room, and ISDN was used for many musical duets being recorded from different studios.

I am not sure that WebRTC is ready for remote duets.

A few years back, a friend wanted to try to do a flash mob karaoke via Twitter or SMS. It was my opinion at the time that synchronizing the text receipt was going to make it very disjointed. The issue was not the network as much as it was the devices; we had no trust that synchronized delivery was a possibility.

Perhaps that is why the speed test recommended by The ZOEN is included a PC diagnostic and not just a network test. In theory, WebRTC use of Viper makes it easier to synchronize.  I am curious if anyone is mixing successfully without and MCU multiple voices.  

On the data channel side, perhaps a metronome can be provided. The adoption of Google Helpouts for The ZOEN in theory reduces overhead and delay on PC. We will see if this means group instruction can be implemented. 

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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