Back in March 2020, we all said - what is two weeks lockdown for the greater good? It's close to a year now, and it is no overstatement to say that things have panned out a little differently. It is as though the months have passed by with a whoosh before you could grab them by the tail. However, amid all the suffering, personal loss, and economic impact, the world has by and large shown itself to be resilient.
People have found new ways to conduct business. With face-to-face interaction no longer an option or at least severely limited, real-time interaction platforms such as Zoom really took off early into the lockdown. This was only to be expected. But as the months have gone by, new and specialized innovations have started clamoring to be made.
The traditional world of real-time applications revolves around a few uses cases:
a. Meetings and conferences
b. Online classrooms
d. Office presence
Almost every RTC offering in the market could fit into one of the above use cases, or a combination thereof. All of these are somewhat generic, with a few common features - real-time audio/video, a chat channel, a content sharing mechanism, a shared whiteboard etc. The difference lies in how well the features are done and how the application prioritizes them.
During the lockdown, many industries that had not particularly felt the need for such solutions previously started using them in the absence of physical presence. As they did, the demand for highly custom RTC applications started being felt. The medical world, the manufacturing industry, the world of podcasts, started feeling the need for extreme verticalization to enable efficient running of their operations remotely. AR/VR integration, support for very low frequencies, new workflows and many other features have come to be heard as the months have gone by.
This spells exciting times for that part of the tech world that are into WebRTC and related technologies. With the democratization of RTC, it is now possible for a skilled and passionate team to build amazing new products built wit precision and finesse for one industry. The WebRTC stack itself is open source, and can be modified to achieve, for instance, ultra low latency, better voice optimization, frequency cutoffs etc. for various use cases. This is not easy, of course, and there is a technological skill barrier to entry - but it is possible. And as for the applications themselves, a skilled team can build an awesome application using their choice of tech stack - MERN, LAMP, MEVN or any other stable stack.
There is the small matter of a media server that is called for in many use cases. The running cost of the established ones is inhibitive in many cases, especially for startups. However, that problem is likely to be surmounted soon as well, with open source media servers coming up. Intel's OWT is an example, on top of which a specialist team can build their own flavor media server. Again, not every RTC company will have the technical prowess or even desire to go in this direction - and moreover, a media server is more than just source code. But that is a topic for another day.
The virtues of working from home have been realized - even as the world opens up, there is no doubt that we will continue to see adoption of technology to better conduct businesses remotely.