Unified communications  have fueled innovations in tech-based startups and big business solutions alike. Services like Skype and Yahoo Messenger from years past are no longer single-service platforms, but instead will integrate with other methods for a complete experience.


WebRTC, short for Web Real-Time Communication, is an open source project created by Google (with a large amount of participation) and, among other ideas, is attempting to create a universal standard for browser application program interfaces, or APIs. Having one standard allows a myriad of websites to use the same coding, and hence, allow more users the ability to communicate more efficiently and by using the means they most prefer.


So, what does it do?


Unified communications takes key elements of communications – instant messaging, video messaging, location services, mobility, etc. – and combines them into one large package. It has an especially heavy emphasis on telephony and VoIP, and calling from browser to browser. The purpose behind this is to create a sort of app within the browser, so users can call via Chrome or Firefox.


The unique features of WebRTC are what allow users more than “just another video conferencing.” Because WebRTC is an open source project, the standardization will flow much easier, so more companies – and more websites – can adopt it, without downloading updates or installing plugins.


According to Google’s Sam Dutton, it also holds some other beneficial characteristics, like “echo cancellation, packet loss, bandwidth adaptivity, automatic gain control, noise reduction and suppression, image cleaning, and the beautifully named ‘dynamic jitter buffering,’ which maintains reserves of data to avoid video hiccups.” The goal is to create a code that is universally accepted, so that web developers can eventually adopt this API to be integrated into every website.


WebRTC will enable a much richer environment beyond “just the keyboard.” Imagine an environment with richer communications, much more versatile – and flexible – means of video or audio messaging. Web pages that you can really interact with by using the GPS and cameras “tracking your head movement to perform gestures or change font sizes.” One of the unique features about WebRTC – and why many experts label it a disruptor – is that it isn’t an app or plugin. It’s actually in the coding, and it is “built” directly into a browser.


Developers and Development


WebRTC is still a growing technology, and Mozilla gave developers the go-ahead to “begin tinkering,” asking developers “to help discover what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be better.” It’s still a process, but one that is rapidly evolving into fruition. WebRTC relies heavily upon developer adoption, however, because developers are the future of this platform.


WebRTC is not without its hurdles, however. In part because it requires developer adoption to be successful, and part because the theoretical possibilities far outweigh what’s practical in the next few quarters, WebRTC has not gained the momentous support it had hoped for in the outset. Progress has been slow in the making, and WebRTC has met with some difficulty integrating into other browsers (besides Chrome and Mozilla).


That hasn’t stopped its progression altogether, or dampened expectations. WebRTC is poised to be the next “evolutionary” (or, perhaps, revolutionary) step in changing peer to peer communications. One of the most relevant aims for many developers is the potential commercial applications. Imagine, for instance, a website which integrates a “one-click” call, and immediately you’re transferred to a conference video call.


One of the hindrances of call centers has been the lack of visual confirmation for full understanding of a situation, circumstance, or verification of identity. WebRTc will solve this, along with a host, of other problems. Cell phone providers could be able to perform tech support over video messaging, for instance. Truck drivers can call the dockworkers (whom they’ve often never met) from their mobile phone while the GPS detects exactly how far out they are. This same mobile phone can then call the logistics manager at the truck’s main station for the truck driver and provide an accurate assessment, complete with geographical information.


It is transactions like these that will shape the future of WebRTC, but it’s not limited to just logistical coordination – indeed, that’s only the beginning. However, once WebRTC is up and available as part of the browser’s code, the simplification alone of being able to call any browser without having multiple accounts (e.g. Facetime, Skype, Hangout, etc) will be priceless. Complete integration into Android phones (one could hope Apple will join in, too) will optimize the user experience as well. In the same way Chrome has integrated browsers from desktop to laptop, so will WebRTC.


In conclusion, this is a game-changer – but it’s only the beginning, just like the first few connections to the internet were only the beginning. As we wait anxiously for this to fully mature, one thing is for certain – there are few boundaries, and even those will likely not last long.