WebRTC World Feature Article

February 03, 2014

Improving Conference Calls with WebRTC

There is this great video circulating around the Web depicting what conference calls would look like in real life. If you’ve ever been on a conference call over the phone, you’ve probably experienced one of the featured situations in the video, from joining a conference and identifying who is on the call to losing connections, talking over someone else and trying to communicate with distracted people.

The video is so funny because it is so relatable for business workers, especially with multiple people on one call. Many companies are dedicated to improving these typical conference call experiences by bringing it to the Web.

UberConference is one company working to make conference calling a seamless, simple and speedy part of our days. It enables users to “Never need a PIN. Never ask ‘who joined’ or ‘who said that?’” The company sets itself apart in the industry with is visual dimension, allowing users to see everyone on a call, people waiting to join and attendees who just left. The entire visual interface lets you know who’s there and who isn’t, which goes a long way in making the onboarding process quick and simple. Clicking on a person will pull up his or her LinkedIn or Facebook profile, or any other public information about them. 

One area UberConference and many other companies are dipping their toes in is WebRTC. WebRTC brings video and audio communication to the browser, and also enables peer-to-peer connections for file and screen sharing. UberConference is using the HD audio codec OPUS to facilitate high-definition audio over WebRTC to deliver the best possible sound quality for each call. OPUS enables this quality while adapting to changes in available network bandwidth, making it unobtrusive. This allows UberConference to transmit more of the audio spectrum, for calls that sound like the participants are in the same room.

Other players in the WebRTC conference calling space include AnyMeeting, TokBox, Net Medical Xpress, Saypage, Speek and Lindenbaum.

Since writing about WebRTC I have had my fair share of conference calls and interviews via online video. It eliminates so many of these challenges highlighted in the video that can make a call more productive – you can clearly see who is speaking, and since you are face-to-face with people, you can tell when someone is not paying attention, pushing them to actually go distraction-free for a few minutes.

Technical barriers like mute, lag, bandwidth usage and actually getting the video to display are challenges that WebRTC works to eliminate, so it’s an ideal solution for conferencing. WebRTC is predicted to see strong growth as the popularity of real-time video services and conferencing increases, so any company looking to stay in the game should be sure it’s keeping up with WebRTC. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker


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