Ron Tanner's notes on the Atlanta WebRTC Conference
The 2014 WebRTC Conference in Atlanta has come to a close and since my plane doesn’t leave until early tomorrow, I thought that I would write down my thoughts for our employees, customers, and the world.
The WebRTC Serge of 2014
A real treat was to get to know Serge Lachapelle from Google. Serge is the Product Manager for Chrome WebRTC. He is basically the father of WebRTC. (Not like Al Gore who thinks he is the father of the internet – Serge is really the father of WebRTC). What was interesting is the group working on WebRTC is only 35 people. Kind of scary when you think about how much everything we do is riding on this. I was able to corner Serge on several issues we are facing with RTC. First and foremost is the fact that the browser can’t control the input and output devices. If someone has their speaker and microphone set to their headset and a new call comes in, we have no way to play a ring out of the speakers. How dumb is that! Serge says a fix will be done in the September time frame.
Another thing that I talked to Serge about is the fact that WebRTC won’t run on an Ipad. It works fine on a MAC, but not under IOS. I think I made him angry with that question as he curtly told me to refer to Apple. Bottom line, is we aren’t going to see a chrome implementation on Ipad anytime soon. If we need to do that, it is going to have to be a native app. Serge told me that there is possibly some google code that can compile in a native IOS app that will do the WebRTC stuff and we could try to do that. (Google Native Code Package)
I also discussed many other issues regarding WebRTC on mobile devices such speaker vs headset output and cheek pressing buttons when talking like a cell phone. Bottom line, if you want to support mobile, we are going to have to do native applications. For Android tablets, I think the apps will work fine, but phone android or ipad or iphone, native app$$$$.
I did find a guy there from a company called Frozen Mountain Software that has code that we could license for a reasonable amount to help us support IOS, IE, Safari, Linux, Windows phone, Android phone. They had consulting services to build these apps to our specification. If our customers require this, we could outsource to them to come up with a solution.
Serge lives in Sweden as does the bulk of the WebRTC team. The rest are in Mountain View and scattered remotely in other places.
Serge also told me to join the discuss-webrtc google group as there are many google webrtc guru’s monitoring that group.
How dumb can Microsoft be?
They let Microsoft do a keynote today. This guy either has big nerds or he didn’t realize the audience he was speaking to. He gets up there saying that Microsoft is endorsing a new WebRTC standard called ORTC – that is will include WebRTC 1.0 and will be so much better. Are you kidding? He wouldn’t commit that IE will actually support ORTC but that there will be no such thing as WebRTC next year – it will be ORTC and we should all adopt it. Is this guy smoking some of that Colorado weed?
I couldn’t help myself. I had to ask him a question in front of 300 other people. You know that I have always been an introvert, but that didn’t stop me today. I asked him "By microsoft not adopting WebRTC don't you worry IE will continue to lose market share to Chrome"? Several people applauded my question. It was quite the adrenaline rush.
He answered something lame like ORTC will be so superior the market will rush back to the best product. Good thing there weren’t tomatoes on the refreshment table. He needs to see the stats that Chrome is measured to have nearly 50% of all the web requests while IE only has 25%.
The reality is that Microsoft is so late to the party that it doesn’t matter. As Hillary Clinton says: “At this point what difference does it make”. Chrome is already the winner.
The show organizers told us that for the next show that they want to see more than extensions to the Telephony world. They want to see new creative innovations and applications of WebRTC and not the boring telephony world. OK, what might that be?
In my opinion, this is an extension of the Telephony world. Immediately, the application is for call center agent stations where the hardware can be controlled. The BIG application is the integration of the phone and the call center application through the data channel. While I was here at the show, I landed two new projects from customers wanting to do just this. They weren’t customers from the show, but customers that I have been showing our capability. And thanks to my team, especially Monroe and Matt, they did a great job continuing the business back home. Looks like June just might be our best month ever. Matt created our new web site and launched it last Friday and this week, demo downloads have been significantly up. Check out www.voiceelements.com  – it presents how simple our solution is.
The show organizers challenged us to bring to the show real live customers to the Santa Clara show. Customers, any takers to show your solution and plug Voice Elements?
Face to Face is always best
While in Atlanta, I finally met face to face with Artie – a valued customer that started with us way back in the CTI32 days when we still used (cough cough – lower my voice) Dialogic. Artie is a brilliant entrepreneur that creates IVR and call center applications using our toolkit. He also uses our cloud services and generates more minutes than he wants me to tell you about. We discussed WebRTC and he is one of the WebRTC call center projects that we closed this week.
This project will be an excellent example of an existing external IVR being adjusted slightly to enable a WebRTC agent. The call will be transferred to our Voice Elements Platform (Server) that multiple agents (WebRTC cleints) will be connected to. The connected call is free as it is all SIP. It passes all the IVR collected information via a SIP header. The .NET programmed application will route and screen pop the next available agent. Look ma, my browser is my phone – the browser is my call center.
Auto Generated WebRTC Phone?
One cool presentation gave me the idea that you could generate a call center phone automatically based on a survey or selecting available options. Anybody want to try that?
AngularJS or Knockout.js
I was talking to a developer during lunch and I was talking about angular.js (by google) and how it seems like to be a great way to develop “single page applications” which are necessary for webrtc type web pages. He told me that if I liked angular, then try knockout – more lightweight and easier and just as powerful. I hope to play with that next week. Call me later and I will tell you what I think.
One of my favorite parts of this particular show is that they do two afternoons of live demos. Nothing seems to ever go right when you do a demo – does it? There were a few guys that I really felt bad for. I think the problem is most webRTC demos require reliable bandwidth and with all the people, the bandwidth is inconsistent.
Nothing really blew my socks off, but I liked LiveNinja and Katana. There was one product called Cara that detects your emotions from a video feed. Avaya was really pushing their keyword recognition where they pick out important keywords out of the customers description of the problem and it automatically pops up info on that particular problem. Would that really ever work?
Twilio and Dialogic were up there. We are so much better than them! Kevin Cook the CEO of Dialogic gave a keynote. He gave a good presentation but it just goes to show you how far they have fallen for the CEO to come to this small show to get a keynote. How many reverse stock splits have they done now? Oh if I just shorted their stock.
I didn’t see anything that is any better than Voice Elements. Voice Elements RULES!
One booth had a Kiosk with Bridgestone golf where they consulted with me on the best type of golf ball for me. I asked them what kind of ball would keep me from putting a smile on them where the rubber bands were exposed. He told me that there was no hope for me, but he gave me free golf balls anyway.
I think WebRTC is perfect for kiosk environment. Our airport telephone client is considering this type of project.
Field Service Applications
One application is to use WebRTC on a mobile phone to have a field technician use the front camera to show the boss the situation that he is facing. Not sure why they just don’t use Hangouts or facetime – seems like a stretch.
Another app was to have a remote webRTC decorator help you color your walls or decorate your room. They put color chips in the video stream to see what the room would look like with that color.
Esurance (an allstate company) has a WebRTC app where the customer connects from their phone and works with a remote adjustor. Your mobile camera shows the adjustor your damage while he estimates the damage back at the office.
WebRTC life cycle
Presenters claimed that we are still in the early adopter stage of the WebRTC life cycle. We are about to enter the Early Majority phase.
Everyone still shows off all of their Video wares. Even though there are many compelling applications for video, the bulk still seems to be audio applications. I don’t like being on video (my hair is almost gone and I am 20 lbs over weight) – how about you?
One company plugged a major feature of theirs to detect the active talker and change the video stream to put them big – like the presenter and automatically changes when someone else becomes the active talker. I say – so what – big deal.
And the show would not have been the same this year without my new friend Tim Robinson sitting next to me. Tim is the most creative mind that I know. He not only understands business and processes very well, but he is a User Interface (UX) genius. He has a talent to make very complicated things easy. It was fun to look at all this stuff through his eyes. Tim, I'm glad you came.
My favorite slide of the whole show. This is how I feel now after playing at the show: