WebRTC in IoT: What is the Intersection Point?


Yuriy Luchaninov - Javascript Group Leader at MobiDev
Yuriy Luchaninov,
JavaScript Group Leader

[Updated Article]

Summary:

Are you interested in finding the intersection point of WebRTC and IoT? If yes, this article will help you to solve this task. We will dive into notable use cases of WebRTC in Internet of Things, both Device-to-Cloud and Device-to-Person, find out the perspectives of this combination for businesses, and make accurate predictions based on market statistics.

MobiDev’s team is excited to see how the scope of WebRTC in IoT expands from day to day. We’re sure that it can benefit businesses which are interested in automatization of processes, data analysis, and efficient infrastructure reorganization. This statement is based on our experience with the stack of technologies applicable to real-time data exchange in IoT.

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Use Cases of WebRTC in IoT

The use of WebRTC in Internet of Things, from audio and video calls to messaging, is classified into two groups: Device-to-Cloud and Device-to-Person.

Typical use cases of WebRTC perceived as Device-to-Person are related to surveillance cameras, baby monitors, and video doorbells. WebRTC allows users to see or hear what’s happening on the other side.

Device-to-Cloud covers cases of automation. For example, the combination of WebRTC and IoT is suitable for any sphere where drones identify malfunctions and provide comprehensive control. Just imagine a power generation company that could use drones to check the condition of electricity towers and poles, and send video streams to the cloud. Here WebRTC ensures the flow of the process in real time.

Main areas that are natural fits for WebRTC in IoT include:

– Surveillance
– Shared AR
– Smart transportation
– Telemedicine and health tracking gadgets
– Smart environment
– Production processes

The existing use cases for WebRTC can get really diverse, but we would overview the most promising spheres–smart home, healthcare, wearable devices, and the industrial Internet of Things.

WebRTC for Smart Home

This is one of the most lucrative areas for WebRTC — and at the same time one of the most relevant IoT trends. For example, door intercom devices or smart mailboxes that utilize WebRTC for audio/video communication with web and mobile applications. In the former case, residents of smart homes are able to communicate with visitors, making sure no case of urgency remains unnoticed.

We can also mention smart authentication solutions for secure access that involve WebRTC and machine learning-based biometric verification technology.

WebRTC in Healthcare

According to Grand View Research, the telehealth service market is expected to show a compound annual growth rate of 22.4% in the next 7 years, by 2028. So it could become a major sector for WebRTC.

Encryption of communications makes WebRTC attractive to healthcare providers because of their concern with safeguarding the personal health data of their patients. In the US, health data is protected on a legal level by HIPAA, and any corresponding software product must be compliant with its standards.

Real-time video feeds can be applied to:
– Teleconferencing doctor-patient appointments
– Remote therapy sessions
– Group therapy teleconferences
– Clinical meetings
– Remote observation of operating rooms

Above-mentioned cases have gained acceptance with many health insurance plans to reduce costs.

71% of patients in the United States considered telemedicine at the beginning of the pandemic, and 50% had already utilized virtual appointments.

Mobile app stores already have about 500 telehealth applications that use WebRTC. Although it is not exactly an IoT case, it is undoubtedly worth mentioning.

As for more direct IoT development cases, we can mention smart bedside devices — such as vital sign monitors — that communicate with medical stations located at home, which help doctors check the physical condition of their patients any time of day and night. These have become even more relevant because of the Pandemic.

Industrial WebRTC

Following IoT trends in manufacturing, industrial enterprises are still rather conservative in terms of technology and innovation. However, the changing business landscape dictates the need for new solutions, which are slowly but steadily introduced by leading businesses to their core systems.

As an example, we can name applications that trigger or enhance video feeds. A smart factory can use technology to monitor and direct automated processes with sensors. For example, if a thermostat reading indicates that a machine may overheat, it can trigger a video camera to monitor the machine remotely to check its physical condition in real time. Another case is remote support service that can use WebRTC-based video calls for urgent equipment troubleshooting purposes.

Our demo: WebRTC-based remote assistance

If you want to see how it works in real life, look no further. Here is a demo that was created by our team to showcase the capabilities of WebRTC-based communication in real time, enhanced by means of shared Augmented Reality.

MobiDev’s experience with WebRTC IoT

There are two notable examples of WebRTC in IoT that you should pay attention to.

The first project envisaged the creation of the IoT product for a company that works in the sphere of online shopping and logistics. It was dedicated to implementation of a solution that helps delivery companies and residents of suburban areas send and receive deliveries remotely. The device is installed outside the user’s home. Thanks to the mobile application provided by MobiDev, residents of suburban areas, spending a significant part of the day commuting or at work, can unlock their smart mailboxes remotely in order to send and receive deliveries with the help of couriers at any time of day. The mobile application involves WebRTC for real-time communication between user and courier.

The second project was related to smart intercoms. This intercom includes the screen and is suitable for a large office building with a single access system installed at the entrance. Office workers use it to go inside. When third party visitors come, they enter the number of the cabinet, after which the system connects with the terminal of the particular cabinet. Workers of this cabinet can see a visitor, open the access, and allow a guest to come in. The system tracks all these events. The role of WebRTC here has become crucial because it provides users with the possibility to interact in real time.

Benefits of using WebRTC in Internet of Things for businesses

✓ Increasing market share
✓ Growth of regular income
✓ Modernization of services

Despite all the benefits, integration of WebRTC with the Internet of Things has its challenges. Devices come with varied requirements and capabilities that can make interoperability difficult. Cross-platform communication is generally a non-trivial task; however, without WebRTC it would become even less possible.

Using WebRTC in your IoT application

To sum things up, WebRTC offers a number of capabilities that enhance the development of IoT applications.

  • High-definition video communication: WebRTC helps implement secure audio/video streaming between browsers, involving both audio and video.
  • Mobile-to-mobile connections: Since mobile applications can use web interfaces, WebRTC is not limited to running on desktop web browsers. Native libraries are available for Android and iOS.
  • Machine-to-machine connections: When it comes to the Internet of Things, WebRTC can be integrated with smart devices to enable the required functionality.
  • Messaging and file sharing: WebRTC establishes secure connections, shares data, and eliminates the need to store files in the cloud or in data centers by delivering data directly.
  • Phone-to-browser connections: WebRTC can create connections between Public Switched Telephone Networks and browsers. HTML5 API and SIP Gateway are utilized to conduct calls from a single location.

The scope of WebRTC in IoT will expand. This is evidenced by the growth of certain industries – from telehealth services to smart homes and smart offices. And we are here – at the forefront of development and implementation of WebRTC in IoT applications, keeping new technologies and innovations under the radar. This ensures that MobiDev is able to offer top-notch products that help businesses to stand out from competitors.

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