Talking with TokBox about WebRTC

WebRTC Feature Story

Talking with TokBox about WebRTC

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  November 05, 2014

TokBox (News - Alert) was founded in 2007 as a consumer video chat service. In November 2010 it launched OpenTok, a cloud platform for adding live video, voice and messaging to websites and mobile applications and in 2012 became the first company to launch support for WebRTC. The company’s scalable, customizable platform gives users the creative freedom to develop any real-time communication interaction, from one-to-one video chats to large-scale broadcasts. We recently interviewed TokBox CEO Scott Lomond

to learn more.

What is TokBox’s approach to WebRTC?

WebRTC is a fundamental technology shift that is changing the way we communicate online, adding voice and video to the web for the first time, without confusing or cumbersome restrictions. But WebRTC is simply a standard, not a solution by itself. Platforms like OpenTok are required to take the standard and transform it into an enterprise-grade platform upon which innovative companies can build solutions. In real-world implementations, organizations need hosted infrastructure, firewall traversal, mobile compatibility, and more. Our goal is to be the leading provider of platform services to customers of all sizes that want real-time communications for their websites and mobile applications.

How does WebRTC make video better?

In the past, companies interested in real-time communications had to rely on Flash. WebRTC delivers significantly improved video quality with connection times that are up to six times faster than Flash, with additional improvements in quality of service.

Unlike Flash, WebRTC is a truly concerted effort by the technology industry to enable real-time communication as a first-class citizen within the browser ecosystem. It also goes beyond pure audio/video and provides mechanisms for data sharing. Its various underlying technologies, protocols and codecs have been optimized through algorithms within the media engine to provide the best possible audio/video experience. In addition, TokBox is extending optimization further through capabilities such as network adaptation and more.

How is TokBox’s WebRTC platform used by customers today?

Having pioneered real-time communications, even before WebRTC, OpenTok has more than four years experience helping companies bring voice and video to real-world applications. The platform has been used by organizations across a wide range of industries, including companies like Mozilla (News - Alert), with its recently-launched Firefox Hello!, Major League Baseball, Fluke, Esurance, Minerva Project, Bridgestone and Double Robotics.

Fluke is great example of a company leveraging the OpenTok platform to improve business efficiencies and enhance existing workflows. Fluke’s wide range of commercial testing equipment – including digital multimeters, thermal imagers, portable oscilloscopes, and air-quality meters – is the go-to choice for technicians in industry and education alike. Because test tool results were previously limited to one device, Fluke faced a challenge in allowing customers to collaborate and share knowledge while on the job. With the Fluke Connect system, users can now transmit measurements directly from tool to smartphone, sharing data instantly and securely with their entire team within the context of their normal workflow.

Fluke used OpenTok’s Android (News - Alert) and iOS SDKs to add a ShareLive video call feature, keeping teams connected both in the office and out in the field. Technicians can now start a video call from the field, show a colleague in the office the issue they’re having, and consult with them in real time, all without leaving the work site. By enabling real-time remote collaboration, Fluke has helped these teams to more confidently diagnose and solve problems on site, increasing efficiency and productivity.

TokBox in October introduced its OpenTok Starter Kits. Tell us about that.

We are always looking for ways to make OpenTok easier to use for developers, so we created OpenTok Starter Kits. These Starter Kits include sample code and best practices for implementing the OpenTok platform’s server and client components. Three use case kits are now available for download as open source applications on GitHub, and we are receiving great feedback from developers and partners.

TokBox also offers Media Routing. What is important to know about your Media Routing system, and what’s new with this capability since the last WebRTC event?

Our Media Router intelligently routes, scales, and shapes video streams traveling through the OpenTok platform. It is a media distribution framework, providing a major upgrade to WebRTC client capability, including:

  • High-quality multi-party video communications
  • Cross-browser compatibility for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer
  • Cross-device compatibility for iOS native apps and Chrome on Android
  • Reduced upload bandwidth consumption with ability to scale out a single WebRTC stream to many endpoints

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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