Here’s my official opinion: WebRTC & IOT aren’t related. Not really.
These two? mix the best on a logo and nowhere else.
I’ve been noticing recently a lot of discussion around WebRTC and IOT. IOT here stands for Internet of Things and not Interpoerability. I’ve been thinking about this topic on and off for the last year or so, and my solid opinion is that there’s nothing really related between these two.
The main reason for me to take this stance now is several incidents where I’ve seen the two being placed together:
- There’s the Vidyo raising some more money… apparently for “video” IOT
- @ThingsExpo’s full track with the title “WebRTC – Backbone of the Internet of Things”
- A few vendors I have talked to who tried working the angle of IOT for WebRTC
The critique hasn’t been out there to state that this is just trying to hitch on the bandwagon of IOT.
I’ve seen it in the past in the video market. Green technology? video conferencing. Eyjafjallajökull erupts in Iceland halting all European flights? video conferencing. Travel cost reduction? video conferencing.
For some reason, this type of thinking is now also plaguing WebRTC, where we’re trying to stick excuses to using it instead of focusing on benefits.
Why IOT and WebRTC don’t mix
So here’s the problem I have with this approach of fuzing WebRTC and IOT:
- WebRTC is for people. IOT is for… Things
- While WebRTC has a great utility called a Data Channel, it is used only in the browser. Anywhere else it is rather useless
- IOT on the other hand, runs browserless. Because it gets embedded into… Things
- I once thought that it would be great to place WebRTC’s data channel on a Raspberry Pi and run it, but since then left the idea – simply because you can just put Node.js on a Raspberry Pi and P2P with it to your heart’s content sans WebRTC. There are already good open source mesh frameworks for use on devices – no need to add WebRTC
- The place where WebRTC really fits into IOT? When you want to go low latency between people who are interacting with each other and there’s some Things they need to handle for that purpose. Not that I have a specific use case for it at the moment
IOT is now talked a lot about and it garners huge investments in startups and acquisitions – a lot more than anything in the WebRTC space. It is no wonder that communication vendors are trying to put an IOT sticker on their products. But for me it makes no real sense.
Back to my reasons
Vidyo touting IOT? Probably just a way to raise yet another 20M USD, after raising more than a 100M USD in the last decade.
@ThingsExpo? Events… attract audience by placing enough buzzwords in headlines.
Vendors? Trying to attract customers.
My suggestion? Say things as they are and don’t force yourself on areas you don’t really play (or even understand).
WebRTC vendors should stick to improving user experience of communications. There’s nothing wrong with doing just this one thing and doing it best.