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Interview with Michel L’Hostis from Apizee

Michel L'HostisAt our WebRTC conference in December I had a chance to speak with Michel L’Hostis, CEO of Apizee, about what they offering their customers and specifically about their partnership with AMA Medical. Below are the details from our discussion.

What is Apizee all about?

Apizee is a french IT startup specialized in the development of WebRTC solutions for websites and several enterprise applications such as diagnosis or CRM (customer relation management). The company was created in 2013 by Michel L’HOSTIS and Frédéric LUART, communications industry veterans. The company first developed a communication WebRTC cloud platform to offer live chat, voice and video services to websites and mobile applications. We also propose solutions packages for websites or enterprises usages:

  • IzeeChat: it is a live video chat solution. It allows to assist clients, visitors, to target clients and to manage the customer relation by using, chat, video and collaborative features without any plugins
  • IzeeDiag: it is the remote diagnosis solution. Technicians or clients can be linked instantly to expert to get advice and video diagnosis.
  • IzeeHealth: it is the IzeeDiag solution specialised for medical application such as medical consultation. Patients and doctors are able to exchange (chat, voice and visio, file sharing…) so that doctors are capable of diagnosing.
  • Izeelink: internal unified communications solution for any enterprise web site.
  • IzeeBroadcast: a live streaming and live communication solution. People can assist to a meeting even if they are not in the same room and they can also interact together (they can share files, discuss, …)

Apizee’s targets are retail websites, global companies (multinational), large-scale businesses operating in telecommunication sector, consumer goods, industries (especially for the diagnosis solutions), online services such as e-learning, insurances, public services (sickness insurance, tax on web…), medical sector… It is a great differentiation tool for high competition retail websites. Our solutions are used in North America, Europe and Asia.

Apizee RTC PaaS

What is the cooperation with AMA about? What is unique about this new offering from both companies?

AMA Medical is part of Studio AMA, an international developer and publisher of applications on tablets, mobiles and connected objects. In 2012, the company entered the Glass Explorer Program and became one of the first European companies to introduce Google Glass on the market. Their goal is to bring Google Glass into Medical Applications.

Cooperation between the two companies will be an effective progress in the development of simple, mobile and adapted solutions for medical applications. The objective is to link the remote diagnosis solution of Apizee to the connected Google Glass of AMA for medical application such as surgery or telemedicine.

Thanks to that cooperation, Apizee will be able to go further in the development of its remote diagnosis solutions and to answer to a real market need. Currently, Apizee’s solutions are connected to cameras, tablets, smartphones, that is to say to objets people must grab. With Google Glass, the user has now free hands and thus is able to use his hands to complete his assignments and share his experience at the same time. Moreover, by the user side, the solution is easy to use and multipurpose: users are able to communicate, to videoconference, to act, to take pictures remotely, to save files… This solution is a real added value for leading industries and the medical sector.

What can you tell us about Apizee future plans?

The future of Apizee is encouraging: we are only at the beginning of web collaboration revolution.

Indeed, future will be more and more digital, and we are on the road of a more digital customer relationship. Collaboration / interaction between clients and companies will be more web- oriented and telephones will no longer be at the center of CRM. Websites will become the entry point of businesses, allowing visitors to get informed, to be assisted, and to become clients. By the company side, it will be a huge tool to manage its customer relationship.

Moreover, our remote diagnosis solutions can be adapted to all kind of business expertise from the B2C expertise to the B2B expertise and using connected objects such as Google Glasses.

WebRTC drives this digital revolution by allowing Web real-time interactions for data channel, voice and web Visio-conference.

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WebRTC Rocks for Music

Live DJ broadcasts powered by WebRTC

Please…not another video conferencing enterprise/consumer/whatever service of 2,4,6…people talking and chatting. Well, this one sure isn’t!

The exciting thing about WebRTC is that you can never predict what applications it will serve. Although many players are investing in these classic video conferencing services, others are using it for completely different applications. Such is the case with a French startup founded in 2013 by Yannick Gouez, Eymeric Pierre-Louis and Romain Agostini.

Introducing unltd.fm

unltd.fm is at the crossroads of Music Streaming Services and Web Radios: the startup offers an interface that allows DJs and Radio Hosts to produce live and interactive music broadcasts. With this platform, DJs and Radio personalities are able to create their own broadcasts directly from their web browser: Log-in, plug-in your equipment or use the in-browser mixing console and you’re ready to go.

Music Fans can discover music through live broadcast indexed by their musical content (Artist played, Music Style, Tempo, Popularity, etc.). Viewers can also interact with the broadcast using Social Networks like Twitter and Instagram and can also Comment, “Like” and Share the tracks played. 
 Untld.fm claims to offer viewers the experience of what “Smart Radios” should really be.

 

unltd.fr-WebRTC

This web broadcasting service uses WebRTC as its core technology. “In the beginning, there were Shoutcast servers, created in 1999, and Icecast (open source). These servers had become pretty much the standards but remained complicated tools to use because you needed to know how to configure them. The arrival of HTML5 APIs have greatly simplified things,” explains Yannick Gouez. “Our service is live: the concept is that of a radio. It works in one to many broadcasting and can be scaled to support a high amount of simultaneous listeners”.

The core technology relies on a WebRTC MCU that allows to establish One-To-Many broadcasting connection from the Broadcaster to the listeners.

A Broadcasting gateway is also being implemented in order to allow ‘standard’ and plugin-less broadcasting to non-WebRTC devices (iOS devices, smartTVs, etc.).

Automatic ‘over-the-line’ track detection is provided by an Audio Fingerprinting engine integrated into the MCU.

“We have optimized our WebRTC platform to allow OPUS Stereo 48Khz broadcasting which provides a better quality than MP3”.

 

While Audio and Video streams are broadcasted using one-to-many connections over webRTC, the interactive features rely on the Data Channel.

Among Technical challenge faced are:

  • Achieving high quality audio broadcasting over the open internet using WebRTC
  • Feeding WebRTC with WebAudio
  • Broadcasting to non-WebRTC browser & devices (currently in development)

 

Untld.fm is going after the semi-professional DJ market, a rapidly growing population that needs to federate its fans. “Typically, a DJ who broadcasts one show per week and who is going to reach 100 to 150 listeners. There are many analogies with the principal of the webinar,” points out Yannick Gouez.

 

Untld.fm is currently in Alpha version with Beta version planned for Q4 2014.

Applications for the Beta program are open on untld.fm

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Deutsche Telekom Taking a Stab at WebRTC: An Interview with Joachim Stegmann

Joachim Stegman Deutsche TelekomI had the pleasure of speak with Joachim Stegmann from Deutsche Telekom about his current work and view on WebRTC.

Joachim works at T-Labs, DTAG’s research & innovation lab, leading the Future Communication team. He has been working on WebRTC related topics for more than two years now.

Let’s hear what he has to say about Deutsche Telekom WebRTC activities and plans.

 

What are the opportunities of WebRTC for an operator?

Many operators see WebRTC as a threat because the world of telecommunications is now open to the web. In fact, it is now easier for web companies to integrate real-time voice, video, and data communication as part of their web applications. It is expected that this will increase the decline in operators’ traditional voice and messaging revenues. However, these new OTT applications create new communication islands because signaling and interoperability are not within the scope of WebRTC. On the other hand, WebRTC has the potential to create new integrated service offerings.

In principle, the opportunities for an operator can be classified into two groups:

–        Enable interoperability between communication islands: combine different WebRTC ‘bubbles’ and connect them with the Telco networks. Let the user do all his communication from a single (web-based) application.

–        New business development especially in the B2B and B2B2C segments:  Enable integration of real-time communication into business customers’ web applications. Examples are innovative customer service solutions, unified communication and collaboration services, and web-based mobile VoIP applications.

 

What are your current projects and with which partners do you work?

Some projects in Deutsche Telekom are performed within the technology departments. The main objective of these projects is to test the integration of WebRTC gateways into the IMS networks. Some prototype solutions have already been implemented in different countries. Within T-Labs we focus on new innovation based on WebRTC. Together with other Deutsche Telekom business units we define disruptive business opportunities. Additionally, we are currently working on a generic technology framework for web based communication. Partners are suppliers of core technology as well as new startups in this field.

 

Do you target mobile services?

The number of mobile devices with WebRTC enabled browsers is increasing very fast. Although WebRTC technology is not optimized for mobile communication yet, we believe that many problems can be solved in the near future. As we get better 4G coverage in the next years, some of the quality issues will most likely disappear. The advantage is that we can create a real cloud-based mobile service that integrates communication with other mobile web services and can be accessed from any device.

 

What is the business case for you? Do you plan to open your future platforms to other customers?

The business potential is different for the evaluated use cases. E.g. in the B2C area we expect additional revenues from higher data consumption due to an increase in video communication while cost reductions can be calculated when introducing WebRTC in customer service. In the B2B area we can offer more attractive products that integrate real-time communication in business applications. Even in the area of content delivery networks or M2M solutions, WebRTC could play an important role. In the future, we will open our platforms for selected partners with attractive product and service offerings.

 

What are the current main drawbacks and brakes of WebRTC?

One well-known drawback is that WebRTC is not supported by some major browser vendors. Additionally there still is a dispute about the video codec (VP8 vs. H.264) with related patent issues. However, our feeling is that these challenges can be solved in the near future. In the meantime it is necessary to create workarounds for the desired applications.

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Another View on WebRTC Data Channel – Interview with StreamRoot

Nikolay RodionovContinuing the WebRTC Data Channel series of interviews I took the opportunity to get Nikolay Robionov’s, Co-Founder of StreamRoot, point of view.

Can you tell us what your company is all about and what makes it stick out of the crowd of WebRTC start-ups?

Nikolay Rodionov:

StreamRoot is a peer-to-peer video delivery solution that helps online broadcasters to cut their bandwidth costs by up to 90%, while improving the quality of streaming. Our solution also solves the scaling issues most of the big streaming platforms still struggle with, as its efficiency increases with the number of simultaneous users.

Unlike other WebRTC DataChannel startups, our company is focused on video streaming, because video is very data consuming (it will represent 70% of total web traffic in 2017!), and because video providers have very specific needs. We work together with our clients to give them a solution that integrates almost instantly in their workflow, and provides a completely seamless experience for the end-user.

We are always on the edge of the technology, and succeeded to have the first commercial P2P player for Live Streaming on the market, and the support of adaptive bitrate technologies as MPEG-DASH. We want to become the reference in P2P video streaming by leveraging WebRTC, and we already are acknowledged as such by the the biggest players in the industry.

StreamRoot-Solution-Diagram

The data channel is one of the more interesting capabilities of WebRTC with boundless innovation opportunities. How are you innovating with it?

Nikolay Rodionov:

We saw data channels as a huge opportunity to deeply transform how the web is working today. Datachannels enables to create client-to-client transfers of any type of data without anything to install on top of the browsers, so we decided to use it to create a distributed video delivery solution. Data channels enable us to not struggle too much with the very low-level transfer issues, so we can concentrate on build a complex peer-to-peer protocol optimized for video streaming.

While there are many start-ups dealing with WebRTC not many of them are looking at the data channel. Do you think there is any special reason for that?

Nikolay Rodionov:

WebRTC was created by people and companies coming from the Telcos, so their number one focus was the Visio-conference usecase. They see WebRTC as an evolution of their existing protocols and softwares ported into the browsers, so they are not very interested in Datachannels. But WebRTC Datachannels has given developers a completely new possibilities to interact on the web, and we think the biggest innovations will come from this area as WebRTC will become more mainstream.

Lately there has been a lot of buzz around net neutrality and the FCC actions in this regards. In addition to that there are announcements about Netflix relationship with Comcast and Verizon, while on the other hand there are rumors about Netflix looking at P2P technology to save on bandwidth and cost. Can your company provide remedy to this issue and does Net Neutrality impact your solution?

Nikolay Rodionov:

Yes StreamRoot is a very good solution for this problem, as our system is relieving the congestions in the interconnection points between big video plaforms and ISPs. The end-users doesn’t need to fetch the data from the Netflix servers anymore, but can get it from the nearest peer, who can be his neighbor. And our solution benefits not only the video platform, but also the ISPs, because we optimize our peer network so the data travels less and stays in the same ISP network if possible.

If the FCC new propositions pass, bandwidth will become even more expensive, and the demand for a solution like ours will grow even more. I don’t think ISPs will be able to block all the WebRTC communications, so they will not be able to block peer-to-peer delivery, and that could be the solution for a lot of video websites who wouldn’t have the money to pay millions for a fast lane.

Are there any customers already using it? Can you name a few?

Nikolay Rodionov:

We did some great publicly demonstrated pilots with France Televisions in December and Level3 at the NAB show last month. We have several pilots running with big Live Streaming providers (main French TV Channels, as well as OTT services like PlayTV), and are in a pre-production phase with some large VOD platforms.

What’s next for your company?

Nikolay Rodionov:

Our next biggest focus is to expand internationally, and get even more clients and use cases to prove to the broadcasting world that this technology is ready for production.

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Exploiting WebRTC Data Channel Potential: Interview with Viblast

Petar BojkovFollowing my previous post about companies using the WebRTC data channel I started doing some in-depth interviews with a few of them. This is the first interview done with Petar Bojkov, COO of Viblast.

Can you tell us what your company is all about and what makes it stick out of the crowd of WebRTC start-ups?

Petar Bojkov:

Viblast is providing scalable video streaming solutions. Our software platform addresses the unique challenges of broadcasters and over-the-top (OTT) video content providers to reliably deliver high quality video to an ever-growing number of broadband viewers worldwide. Viblast’s groundbreaking functionality relies on the principle of a peer-assisted Content Delivery Network (CDN), where content is delivered to end-viewers using a traditional CDN model improved by the addition of a peer-to-peer (P2P) layer between users.

Our solution uses WebRTC’s data channel to exchange video/audio data chunks between users. While the prevalent uses of WebRTC we’ve seen so far have been centered around making video calls, Viblast tackles a larger scale problem which is poised to grow in parallel with the exponential demand for video streaming.

Viblast-Solutionn-Diagram

The data channel is one of the more interesting capabilities of WebRTC with boundless innovation opportunities. How are you innovating with it?

Petar Bojkov:

Theoretically, the data channel has unlimited potential. However, current implementations usually assume that the data channel will be used for small amounts of data. As Viblast is one of the few companies using the data channel to transfer more than simple text messages between users, we were one of the first developers that tried to pass big chunks of data between peers.

Of course, being off the beaten track is very interesting and challenging. We had to solve some unique challenges, the answers to which cannot be found with a simple web search. We also had to implement various workarounds such as limiting the amount of data we are sending in one message.

While there are many start-ups dealing with WebRTC not many of them are looking at the data channel. Do you think there is any special reason for that?

Petar Bojkov:

The core idea behind WebRTC is to provide a real time communications stack for the web and as such, most startups tend to focus on this space, building one video calling app after another. Since video calling does not require a data channel to work, it gets largely ignored. Such a pity, since there are many interesting use cases of the data channel that would solve real world problems.

An example would be Viblast as a peer augmented CDN using the data channel for peers to communicate, another interesting use is direct file sharing between browsers and yet another one would be a distributed web without servers. The list goes on and I expect that once the initial hype with video calling starts to fade, we will see more and more of these use cases taking advantage of WebRTC’s data channel.

Lately there has been a lot of buzz around net neutrality and the FCC actions in this regards. In addition to that there are announcements about Netflix relationship with Comcast and Verizon, while on the other hand there are rumors about Netflix looking at P2P technology to save on bandwidth and cost. Can your company provide remedy to this issue and does Net Neutrality impact your solution?

Petar Bojkov:

The recent Netflix – Comcast deal and the surrounding net neutrality debate is an interesting issue when considered in the context of Viblast as Viblast’s technology has a potential impact on both. As it currently stands, Netflix streams directly to their subscribers, each subscriber consuming gigabytes upon gigabytes of data, which are delivered by Netflix’s own infrastructure and Amazon Web Services. With the planned move to Ultra HD (4K), these numbers are set to grow in the coming years. Streaming to millions of users is an expensive proposition and the recent Netflix – Comcast peering agreement only compounds the total cost for Netflix.

Are there any customers already using it? Can you name a few?

Petar Bojkov:

Although a young company offering an innovative and yet market unproven solution, interest for our product has been strong and the company is making strides. Viblast is running pilots for a few TV stations, including a national TV channel and a couple of OTT video providers.

What’s next for your company?

Petar Bojkov:

Obtaining a patent for our technology, opening an office in North America and aggressively expanding our customer base once Viblast’s technology becomes more mainstream.

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