WebRTC World Feature Article

January 28, 2013

Ericsson Labs Leading Industry in WebRTC Development: What Does it Mean for How We Use Electronic Devices?

Ericsson Labs has developed several WebRTC solutions that provide communications and file sharing in browser-to-browser applications without requiring plug-ins. It recently released a WebRTC development platform that allows any device with Web capabilities to become a communications device accessible by a mobile phone number.

This comes a few months after Ericsson Labs released Bowser, a mobile browser for the iOS and Android that supports WebRTC.

At the moment, there is no finalized standard for WebRTC defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), but that hasn’t stopped Ericsson Labs from moving forward with WebRTC development. Its new development platform, IMS Innovation Platform, released earlier this month, extends video and audio communications capabilities to any Web-enabled device.

The October 2012 release of Bowser meant that Web developers could provide audio and video support in Web applications for iOS and Android.

Ericsson Labs provided WebRTC for desktop devices back in 2011. They provide a tutorial for installing WebRTC peer-to-peer video chat to give users a glimpse of the capabilities of this technology, as well as the ease in setting it up.

The setup for the tutorial has two parts: browser and server. The server installation is optional as users have the option of using an Ericsson server instead of their own.

Requirements of the browser setup are pretty simple: have an HTML 5-compliant browser and Ubuntu 11.04 or 11.10. It is recommended that the installation be done on a dedicated testing computer, since any WebKit library present on the machine would be overwritten.

The two connecting browsers must have the same version of the WebKit library, so updates must be done on all machines involved in any peer-to-peer communication.

The server installation requires Apache 2, php 5 and several modules installed from the command line. These commands have mostly to do with configuring proxy settings and php support. Optional CAPTCHA support is also available.

A code walkthrough dealing with only key components of the tutorial follows the server installation steps. It describes the invitation process, message management and cleanup to limit memory consumption, accepting the invitation and processing the initial message in a chat session.

The implications of Ericsson Labs’ work on WebRTC technology could have a large effect on how we use electronic devices. The development of smartphones blurred the lines between phone communications, television and computing. Cell phones were no longer just cell phones and had the capabilities of several devices. With Ericsson pushing WebRTC technology, the innovation has gone full circle as almost any electronic device now has telecomm capability. 

We may no longer have standalone gaming consoles, smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs, but instead have general electronic devices that come in different sizes and have all these capabilities.  

Edited by Braden Becker


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