8 Use Cases for Real-time Communications with WebRTC

Each month, WebRTC carries billions of minutes and is used every day for real-time video and audio calls. Several huge applications use WebRTC for real-time communications, including Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger. We're now seeing many use cases emerge that take advantage of the ease of development, built-in security, and scalability empowered by WebRTC. Here are eight examples of emerging use cases of real-time communications:

  1. One-way Conversational Devices -- The virtual digital assistant market is expected to grow by a factor of three by 2021, according to Tractica. One-way conversational assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple's Siri serve the majority of this market, and the devices they run on have become highly sought-after pieces of technology.

    Amazon uses WebRTC for Alexa as well as several other products, including its online meetings and conferencing software, Amazon Chime, and a browser-based version of its Alexa devices. Google Duplex uses real-time communications and artificial intelligence (AI) that allows users to have natural conversations and carry out real-world tasks over the phone. Similarly, Google Dialogflow enables developers to build voice and text-based conversational interfaces, including voice apps and chatbots.

  2. Surveillance -- Privacy and protection concerns from governments, businesses, and consumers continue to rise as our society becomes more connected. According to IHS Markit, 130 million surveillance cameras are expected to ship globally in 2018, compared to fewer than 10 million shipped in 2006. Though surveillance has classically required at least one human being, that has begun to change. Now, facial recognition, pattern recognition, infrared, and other AI algorithms are aiding surveillance systems in identifying malicious behavior. With WebRTC, these systems can send automated alerts, which video surveillance technologies such as Amaryllo and ring.com already are doing.
  3. Internet of Things (IoT) -- Globally, about 127 new devices are connected to the Internet every single second, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. The IoT is experiencing significant growth, and the most important thing coming out of the IoT is the data passed between the machine-to-machine connections. This is what makes WebRTC prime for use in the IoT. One of many examples of how the IoT benefits from WebRTC is DroneSense, a software platform that powers drones and uses real-time communications for video conferencing.
  4. Entertainment -- Augmented reality (AR) is expected to have one billion users by 2020, as mobile analyst Tomi Ahonen has projected. Between AR, virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR), people are getting excited about video games again. Real-time communications and entertainment intersect in many forms, with simpler games like Cubeslam and more complicated games like AirConsole, both of which use WebRTC.
  5. Connected and Self-driving Automobiles -- The number of autonomous vehicles expected by 2040 is estimated at more than 33 million globally, IHS Markits has reported. Cadillac, Mercedes, and Tesla are each in the process of implementing self-driving cars, among others.

    Self-driving technology companies are implementing real-time communications, especially WebRTC, in high-profile self- and assisted-driving automobiles, like those from Waymo. It has the potential to be an easy-to-implement way to communicate, monitor, and control cars.

  6. Online Education -- Online education platforms are growing, as students want to have access to the best instruction possible from anywhere in the world. In 2015, for example, 49% of students globally had taken an online course, Statista reported.

    Companies like BrainCert use WebRTC to create easy-to-use platforms for instructors and customized learning platforms for larger enterprises. Thanks to WebRTC, they can provide data transfers, voice calls, and video calls to their students in real time.

  7. Healthcare -- The number of individuals using telemedicine services is expected to rise to seven million in 2018, up from less than 350,000 in 2013, according to IHS Markit research. This is a drastic change fueled by individuals wanting to live more nomadic lives and avoid visiting the doctor for smaller, more easily diagnosed illnesses.

    Companies such as Teladoc provide care to patients over the Web, phone, or through their mobile app, and are enabling this change. Teladocs aim is to provide patient-centric, cost-efficient care using real-time communications and WebRTC over voice and video. Similarly, Kry connects patients to doctors over a video call at a convenient time and place. Kry doctors speak more than 20 languages to aid as many patients as possible.

  8. Team Collaboration and Communication -- In 2016, 43% of American employees reported having spent at least some time working remotely, according to a Gallup survey. To enable this kind of work, team collaboration and communication apps have skyrocketed in popularity. WebRTC is the perfect tool for creating effective team collaboration products, since it can empower audio and video calls as well as data transfers. In fact, Slack already uses WebRTC to integrate video into its team collaboration application.

The Future of WebRTC

As these and other use cases continue to emerge, we'll see more and more need for real-time communications. It will be exciting to see where real-time communications can take these use cases and how the inherent scalability, security, and ease of use of WebRTC can contribute to the future of tech.