By Henry Kaiser | September 20, 2014

“Okay Google, call my mother-in-law.”

Calling right from your web browser has been made even easier with a technology known as WebRTC (Real Time Communications). This technology uses HTML5 and JavaScript to support browser-to-browser apps for voice calls, video chat, and peer-to-peer file sharing without requiring third-party plugins. Some pundits predict that WebRTC will be the future of virtual communications and real-time content sharing. A recent report from Smiths Point Analytics looking at cloud real-time communications platforms predicts that this market will represent a $4.5 billion opportunity by 2018.

WebRTC is gaining converts by providing an easily accessible video client that can work independently of any third-party software, although it is currently supported only in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers. Mozilla just launched the latest batch of updates to their Firefox beta that will allow users to test drive Firefox’s built-in WebRTC-based video chat using an experimental in-browser communications client. In the backend, Mozilla has partnered with the WebRTC specialists at TokBox. Mozilla predicts that this protocol will set a new standard for Voice over IP (VoIP) and Video VoIP communications.

WebRTC – Video Conferencing Right from Your Desktop

Chicago-based web conference platform specialists BigMarker just announced the beta release of what they bill as the world's first full-featured web conferencing platform built entirely on a WebRTC browser-based framework and supported by Google, Mozilla, and Opera. TokBox, a Telefónica company, demonstrated their OpenTok platform at the recent Gartner Catalyst Conference, providing additional proof of the growing popularity of the WebRTC standard and the integration of real-time communications within enterprise applications.

The OpenTok Platform makes it easy for users to add live video and voice communications into online and mobile websites, apps and services. The scalable customizable platform enables users to develop any video interaction, from one-to-one chats to large-scale broadcasts. Cloud RTC platforms like this make it possible for mobile and web developers to integrate communications into their applications with just a few lines of code and quickly integrate voice, messaging and video calling into mobile and web applications.

Ultimately, these services will allow any Internet user to make video VoIP calls. Today Skype and Viber offer similar functionalities but as third-party services with different video formats, requiring that users have the same software before they start trading information. That is why Mozilla is working on making this process easier by integrating a WebRTC feature right into the Firefox browser, thus eliminating the need for any third-party programs.

Apple Promises In-Browser Communications

Meanwhile this June at the WWDC, Apple’s world wide developer conference, along with the announced upcoming release of iOS 8, Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Apple introduced a new integration between Macs and mobile devices, that will allow users to call directly from Macs and websites on the Safari browser. This will bring the same kind of in-browser calling functionality that WebRTC provides, allowing Apple users to send calls and text messages, from Macs to smartphones. With one click on a phone number link in Safari and Yosemite users can place a call or send text messages from their desktop or iPad.

Disruptive Analysis, a business advisory firm focused on technology, recently predicted that, by the end of 2016, more than 1.8 billion people will be using some 4.6 billion devices capable of supporting WebRTC. With WebRTC, customers on a company website can click a button that will instantly connect them via audio or video to a service or sales representative directly within the same browser they are using to access the company site.

Order Your Pizza Using Real Time Communications

WebRTC-based real-time interaction solutions are currently being incorporated primarily into websites that focus on e-commerce, high-value banking transactions, and product support. Healthcare organizations are also beginning to use WebRTC solutions to connect with patients and students. Kindle Fire’s HDX Mayday button is a real-world example of this technology already in use. With the push of this button, consumers are connected with an Amazon Tech advisor they can actually see and hear, to get the help they need.

So, should company call centers give up their landlines? Intuitive Solutions is a call center service that believes they should. Using WebRTC, Intuitive Solutions provides businesses with a way to replace old copper wire telephony with a pure web-based call center solution. This delivers scalability and better service to customers. Just ask MUY! Companies, one of the United State’s largest franchise restaurant chains. MUY runs over 230 Pizza Hut locations, and all of their sales and service calls are handled using WebRTC. Since signing on with Intuitive Solutions call center service, MUY Pizza has enjoyed 14 consecutive periods of positive sales growth driven in part by a real time communications technology that makes it possible for pizza lovers to call their local Pizza Hut parlor right from the website.