Very soon your web browser will become your next telephone! Surprised. You should be. Soon you will be able to make voice and even video calls to anyone running the latest web browser. No apps to download, no installs and no sign ups. It’s just you and your web browser.
WebRTC is a free, open project that enables Real-Time Communication (RTC) capabilities to be built right into the web browser without any extra plug-ins or software. In addition to voice and video calls, it will also be possible to screen share and transfer files.
What does this mean for you?
Websites will become more interactive “environments” where other users will be able to interact and communicate in real-time, rather than static pages of text and images. It will also allow for imagine browsing on an online store, being able to chat with other shoppers or even talk with a salesperson or customer support directly and immediately.
What does this mean for healthcare?
This will make telemedicine easier and cheaper to achieve because it won’t require any special hardware or software to setup a videoconference between a patient and a healthcare provider. It could also change the landscape of medical devices, for example, a nurse could receive a critical alarm that links to the patient monitoring device showing the live waveform or real-time values like heart rate.
What browsers have it?
WebRTC is not generally available in any web browser yet, but you can try it in early experimental versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Opera.
When will it be generally available?
I guesstimate that 2013 will be the year of WebRTC and it should be available on all major web browsers.
I am very excited about this new technology because it will take web browsers and communication to the next level. Telecommunications started with landline telephones that only made voice calls, then wireless smartphones enabled voice, video and data and now the web browser will have the ability to allow easy real-time collaboration between individuals and offer direct access to real-time data.