WebRTC Needs a New Acronym

The RTC in WebRTC stands for Web Real-Time Communications. It’s an open web standard released by Google that allows for voice and video communications, as well as file-sharing, right from the browser.

So far, it’s opened the door for some pretty dubitable integrated communications ideas that seem to belie its usefulness.

However, it’s also motivated some rather creative, non-communication applications that seem to emphatically propound its usefulness.

Like PeerCDN.

PeerCDN is a peer-to-peer content deliver network that relies on website visitors to shoulder some of the load of serving images, videos, and files.

Ordinarily, when you go to the website and stream a video, you’re pulling that off the website servers. Lots of visitors mean lots of strain on those servers, as well as increased bandwidth costs for the content provider. With PeerCDN, that load is distributed among the computers accessing the site, turning website visitors into resources. There are probably some ethical concerns over what is basically a legitimatized BitTorrent, but just the idea of it is pretty interesting as far as the potential of WebRTC goes.

Here’s another: Responsive Web Typography.

Developers have used WebRTC to change the size of a typeface based on the distance a person’s eyes are from the screen, which is detected through the camera present on every device. For the user, that means no more manually and imprecisely resizing type or leaning in and squinting. For the developer, that means easier optimization of typeface across devices.

Such creative uses of the protocols are exactly the benefits of open source. More brains getting access to tools to do a wider range of things than what the original developers could imagine or have the time to create by themselves. In this case, WebRTC was supposed to change how we communicate over the web, to give developers without telecom experience the ability to still incorporate telecom capabilities into their products. Instead, it might be changing everything else.

For the record, I didn’t use the word “innovation” in this post once.