WebRTC Together with Chromecast Will Change How We Watch Video Forever

By Steve Anderson August 01, 2013

Sometimes, the combination of products makes for a new synthesis worth more than the sum of its parts. The combination of WebRTC technology and Google’s new Chromecast device may prove to be just such combination.

Perhaps one of the great problems that WebRTC faces currently is that its perceived usefulness is somewhat limited. While most everyone knows about its great capability when it comes to setting up a chat session, or even being used in a small group setting for meetings and collaborative efforts, when asked to discuss any value beyond that capability, there isn’t much out there. So too with the Chromecast device, Google's recently-introduced streaming video alternative. Sure, it will show YouTube videos, and videos from several different vendors as well—a growing list of same, but what does it do beyond that?

As it turns out, when the two technologies are brought together however, a completely new and wholly novel use is put forth that exhibits not only the power of the Chromecast system, but also the power of WebRTC technology.

Chromecast, like WebRTC, is still somewhat in development With the beta version of Chromecast, users can send a browser tab from a Web browser (some reports suggest that, at least for now, it's only Chrome that can do this, though Firefox likely is next) directly to your television.

There are some issues with this. Scrolling doesn't keep up in the translation, artifacts from the compression process are visible, and video will play, but only with some lag and hesitation. Early reports from those who have tried the feature say that the video doesn't quite sync up with the audio, either; important in some releases, less so in others.

But it's not so much the beta feature itself as what it represents. Indeed, reports from Google suggest that it won't take long for the feature to get out of beta, and with the release of Chrome 30, the end result should get it smooth enough that it can easily be used. But, this illustrates a great new use for WebRTC in the form of video transfer, and may well be useful in one of YouTube's biggest issues: discovery.

Perhaps the greatest problem of popular video site YouTube (which is also its greatest strength) is the sheer amount of video that's processed through the site on a daily basis. Finding videos one wants to watch in the pile of videos available and uploaded is no easy feat. But with this combination of Chromecast and WebRTC, the results make for a possible future in which a tablet or laptop essentially functions as both a set-top box and a remote simultaneously, sending video from a display to a larger display, viewed there as normal, but potentially interacted with from the device near the user.

Throw in WebRTC's chat component, and users would be able to not only watch a video, but share it, and even faster than sending a link via e-mail or chat feature. That helps users find something new all that much faster, and sorting quickly through the heap of videos makes for a better interaction with YouTube, not to mention other videos.

WebRTC as a technology is still finding its way. So too is the new Chromecast. With the two together, however, there may be more to be had here than anyone first expected.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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