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What Does Chad Hart Expect from the Future of RTC? [Champion Series]

by Alexandrea Mellen,
22 August 2018

Chad Hart, RTC Champion

Our real-time communications champion spotlight highlights respected, expert members of the real-time communications industry. These individuals come from varied backgrounds and have experienced their own intriguing challenges and successes. Each has a unique story to tell.

We are starting the series with Chad Hart, a deeply engaged member of the real-time communications community and an advocate for WebRTC through the webrtcHacks community, the Kranky Geek event series, and WebRTC Boston.

Read on to learn more about his thoughts on the future of real-time communications.

Who is Chad Hart?

Chad Hart is a real-time communications market analyst and consultant at cwh.consulting, a product management, marketing, and strategy advisory. He is eminently qualified as a real-time communications expert, with over fifteen years of experience in telecommunications at companies including Oracle, Dialogic, Acme Packet, Voxbone, and others. He actively contributes to the WebRTC community through webrtcHacks, the Kranky Geek event series, and WebRTC Boston. Chad has a wide base of experiences focused in the real-time communications space that has lead him to be a knowledgeable advocate for the industry and for WebRTC.

Takeaways from our Conversation with Chad

  1. Real-time is a harder problem than non real-time, because the technology is demanding and the existing technology has been around for so long and users expect a high level of quality.
  2. Real-time communications is a feature that will follow a similar path to the rest of the software industry. For now, that is focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  3. WebRTC is used more frequently than people realize or expect. It’s a technology capability that improves a lot of platforms, even though it does not directly make them money.
  4. WebRTC is expanding into new areas that have significant potential, especially as artificial intelligence gains importance.

Check out the full conversation below.

 

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Chad Hart’s Thoughts on Real-time Communications and WebRTC

We met with Chad Hart to discuss how he sees real-time communications changing from an expert perspective. He gave a lot of interesting insights into where real-time communications has been and where it is headed.

Where do you think real-time communications is headed?

Ultimately, real-time communications is a feature. It’s a demanding feature in a lot of use cases and applications. In some uses, it is the future; It’s just software at the end of the day, so it will follow a lot of software trends. It tends to be a little behind broader information technology, but just because it’s a demanding, hungry feature. Ultimately, it will go where the rest of the software industry goes.

Today, that’s a lot around artificial intelligence and machine learning. There’s actually not a whole lot of machine learning in real-time communications applications yet, but it’s going to come. AI is starting to take off in other areas, and it’s bleeding over into real-time communications. There will be a lot more emphasis and focus on that in the next few years and beyond.

Is that part of the reason you wrote your latest white paper, Artificial Intelligence in Real-time Communications?

Yes. One of the things I’m working on now is an artificial intelligence in real-time communications research study. We interviewed over 40 companies and surveyed about 100 others. We are reaching out to as many as we can and asking them how they are using machine learning and what their vision is for how machine learning and AI will impact real-time communications, as well as what they are doing with their products to incorporate some of these trends. It’s a project I have been working on with Tsahi Levent-Levi.

Where does this all fit in with WebRTC?

If you go back seven years ago, could people have imagined that WebRTC is available on basically every computing device out there and that there are probably 500 or 600 million monthly active users of applications using it? If you look at and track that against other technology adoption, it’s way faster than anything in real-time communications that has happened before. From that perspective it’s way ahead. I think people use WebRTC a lot and they don’t realize it is WebRTC that they are using.

Where it is probably the most frustrating is for people who sell enterprise telecom solutions. If you have a system that’s based on traditional phones, there’s not a whole lot of room for WebRTC. You can swap WebRTC out with some of the underlying SIP stacks, but it doesn’t really give you anything new, so there isn’t a strong driver. There are some drivers, but not a strong driver to swap it out.

So some of the more traditional telephony communities may not be as thrilled with WebRTC because it hasn’t really made any money for them. To be fair, WebRTC hasn’t directly made money for Google, hasn’t made money for Facebook, et cetera. But they are the biggest users of it. It’s a feature. It’s a technology capability that makes their overall platform, overall product, better.

In most cases, the monetization with WebRTC isn’t a direct monetization. It’s kind of an indirect thing. The open source community has been so aggressive on this. There haven’t been a lot of better opportunities to fill in the gaps out there from what the open source stuff has, which is really great if you’re a developer trying to build this stuff and you just want to add real-time communications to your app. This was the whole goal. At least Google’s intent in the first place: to make it simple.

But that’s bad for people who sell technology and used to sell SIP stacks or stuff that’s based on the lower-level tech, as now they can’t anymore.

What do you see as the future of WebRTC in real-time communications?

WebRTC is finding its way in other things, in other use cases and applications. There’s exciting stuff going on with content delivery networks, which could be big. Live streaming hasn’t really taken off yet, but there is a lot of potential there.

In terms of the future of applications and where they fit, I think we will start to see more speech analytics and computer vision. A lot more machine learning will be done on the actual media and content itself, which for WebRTC is mostly about just sending that content from point A to point B. WebRTC isn’t actually manipulating or changing that, but it includes the ability. getUserMedia() is about actually capturing things, and it’s ideal to change a lot of that stuff before you send it, or at least have the option for that. It’s a topic for discussion, but I think that’s where a lot of things will go to make it easier to use WebRTC in an application where you might be doing some machine learning and manipulation of media.

Lastly, we had to ask: What do you think of callstats.io?

It’s nice to have a dashboard and view as to quality and what’s happening. And it’s a nontrivial amount of work to go and try and figure out and do that stuff on your own.

The first thing I’d tell you is just the convenience of being able to go and get all that data at once and have a snapshot of what’s going on across your entire network, and your user base. And to get statistics on usage, trying to figure out mobile usage, or desktop across different browsers, and TURN usage, and all that. It’s important when you’re trying to plan a network.

As a product manager, when you try and estimate costs, that’s all really critical value. I’d say for me, especially the stuff I’ve worked on, that is the most value I’ve gotten out of it. Being able to look at those stats and hard numbers that they are based on … not guesses of a small, small population, but the entire base. You get some hard numbers on what’s going on out there, and that we can plan and coordinate appropriately.

Please note, this interview was condensed and edited for brevity and clarity.

If you want to learn more about Chad, check out his website cwh.consulting.

What would you like to hear from our real-time communications champions? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.


Interested in learning more about emerging use cases for real-time communications? Read our white paper: The Future of WebRTC: Innovative Use Cases of Real-Time Audio and Video Communications.