Technology review: Live video webcasting through the browser

Live video webcasting through the browser, cross-platform, is slowly becoming a working technology due to recent developments in browser specs, as part of the advancements of HTML5.

Several browser manufacturers (Google, Mozilla, Opera) are currently exploring methods to bring two-way multimedia capacity to web-browsers. The technical name for this technology is WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication).

Here is a quick overview of current initiatives that look promising:

Ericsson Labs
“an experiment around real-time voice and video communication built on WebKitGTK+”
While being part of the WebRTC working groups, technicians at Ericsson Labs have implemented their own experimental prototype. It is running in “a modified version of WebKit”, under Ubuntu:
https://labs.ericsson.com/apis/web-real-time-communication/

Quote: “Ericsson Labs offers web developers the opportunity to download a modified WebKit library that allows for experimentation with real-time audiovisual communication in a web browser using the JavaScript APIs proposed by the WhatWG . The modified WebKit library, in turn, relies on the Gstreamer multimedia framework (part of the required Ubuntu 11.04 platform) to carry out the media processing (streaming, coding, RTP, etc.).”
First release: March 2010

Mozilla Rainbow
“Rainbow is an early prototype that provides video and audio capture capabilities to web pages. It is currently distributed as a highly experimental Firefox addon.”
Major update, August 2011:
“we’re happy to announce that we will be working with the WebRTC group on JavaScript APIs that let web developers build real-time voice and video applications. (…) As the project matures, and after the many UI and technology issues have been worked out, we would also like to integrate this feature into Firefox. It is a little early to tell when that will happen, but we want to do it as soon as possible!”
https://mozillalabs.com/rainbow/
https://github.com/mozilla/rainbow
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/mozilla-labs-rainbow/
First release: October 2010

The WebRTC initiative
An open-source effort, started by Google in June 2011, that provides many of the low-level platform APIs required to build support for real-time communication into browsers.
http://www.webrtc.org/

Standards and specifications:
WhatWG: Web Real-Time Communication APIs
W3C : WebRTC Working Group Charter
W3C : WebRTC 1.0 Working Draft
IETF: IETF Working Group

Mailing lists:
public-webrtc at w3.org
rtcweb at ietf.org