Demand for real-time communications applications is growing rapidly. As a platform provider, we focus on our core business: creating a scalable, easy-to-use and capability-rich WebRTC platform. Sometimes, though, customers approach us seeking development assistance as they integrate live video into their website or mobile application or build a new project altogether. This is where our agency partners come into play. We need a group of highly skilled and responsive agencies that can help turn our customers’ OpenTok concepts into realities.
Today we’re announcing new Intelligent Quality Controls in the OpenTok platform. To catch everyone up, Intelligent Quality Controls are the features and enhancements we’re developing to make sure that each participant in a video call has the best possible experience.
Update (Nov 25): Developers, check out our new blog post that provides details on using dynamic frame rate controls.
You may recall that over the summer we launched traffic shaping for the audio-only fallback feature. This feature drops video in low bandwidth situations to prevent a participant with poor QOS from dragging down the video quality for everyone else. Essentially, we built the automatic (video) mute button for “that guy on his cell phone in a convertible!”
Connectivity, we at TokBox believe, is one of the cornerstones of real-time communication applications. So we are happy to announce that we now support TURN over TCP.
There are several technologies which are used to help establish connectivity in WebRTC. The first mechanism is using a protocol called STUN. STUN uses a ping-pong mechanism to find the public IP of a client end-point so that a peer-to-peer session can be established and one can traverse a firewall. While this is useful in a number of scenarios, there are cases where one could be behind symmetric NATs, where STUN does not suffice. TURN helps in these cases. TURN is a mechanism by which real-time media can be relayed through a TURN server to punch through firewalls. OpenTok seamlessly supports STUN and TURN so a developer doesn’t have to worry about how to setup up these servers, scale them, establish connectivity etc.
As we announced on August 29, today TokBox introduced new pricing for the OpenTok platform. Please take a moment to check out the new pricing section of our website: http://tokbox.com/pricing.
Our new pricing starts with a 30 day free trial during which we hope developers check out everything the OpenTok platform has to offer.
Customer who wish to continue working with the OpenTok platform after the trial period can do so by entering credit card info in the account’s dashboard – or by contacting business development (firstname.lastname@example.org) for invoicing information.
In April we announced our new Mantis multi-party infrastructure for Web RTC was available for pre-production trials. Since that time, hundreds of customers have logged minutes against our new infrastructure, powering multi-party OpenTok calls around the world.
We’re seeing customers connect foreign language students from across the world, build classrooms of sizes well past what off the shelf WebRTC could support, and experience more stability and quality in their multi-party conversations.
You could consider Mantis to be a media router, but in reality it is so much more than that. As the OpenTok platform grows and evolves to better solve the use cases our customers are building, the Mantis infrastructure is going to allow us to deliver a level of quality (starting with our traffic shaping algorithms that we released in June), product enhancements (such as archiving), and other capabilities that will take WebRTC to a new level.
At TokBox, we aim to push boundaries and deliver the best possible WebRTC-enabled experience for application developers building face-to-face video applications. One of our guiding architectural philosophies has been to provide the right primitives for developers to build rich and powerful applications. In addition, we want to make sure we abstract the underlying nuts and bolts and enable the cloud service to dynamically react to changing environmental conditions (bandwidth, packet-loss, etc.) in order to deliver the best possible experience.
The multiparty stream routing component of the OpenTok platform is also capable of shaping traffic in real time. Let’s take a look at how this this capability delivers a significantly improved quality of experience for users.
There’s a new digital version of an old analog joke that starts something like this: “Two WebRTC engineers walk into a bar to have a beer while they talk about signaling.” The problem is that it’s the hotel bar at the Hotel California, and the punchline is that the engineers never get to leave.
Hardly a day goes by without another blog post about signaling and WebRTC.
Some people think signaling should be standardized; others think we already have the answer in SIP or REST. Some think that the lack of a signaling specification (beyond the need to support SDP offer/answer) is a huge gap in the WebRTC standard.
We think that leaving signaling out was the smartest thing that the key drivers of the standard could have done, for three reasons:
Over the last two years, OpenTok has continued to break ground as a live video platform.
As we’ve watched use cases evolve from basic social chat all the way up to supporting complex customer support calls, we’ve also discovered that partners need more than just live video communications – they need a way to orchestrate and communicate between the application endpoints. So today, we are exposing our signaling layer to OpenTok 2.0 developers so that you can piggyback on the distributed, scaled infrastructure that’s been proven to work over the last two years.
On October 1st, 2013 we will be launching new pricing for the OpenTok platform.
We are updating our pricing to reflect the cost of operating the OpenTok Platform on WebRTC versus older versions of our platform.
Using WebRTC technology, live video streams are commonly delivered at several times the data rate of a Flash video chat stream. Simply put, WebRTC consumes a lot more bandwidth than Flash, which can affect our operating costs. While WebRTC is a free and open-sourced standard, it doesn’t include the back-end infrastructure required to operate a live video communications application in the real world.
That’s what we provide with OpenTok – a global platform that offers the advanced features, capabilities, and back-end infrastructure that make WebRTC viable for commercial applications. We believe that our new pricing structure fairly reflects our underlying delivery costs while delivering terrific value for our customers and partners.
Today we’re excited to announce OpenTok for Customer Service (OTCS). This is our first solution built on top of the OpenTok platform, and will make it faster and easier for our partners to implement face-to-face video chat for customer service applications.
Over the past few years, we’ve had the opportunity to keep a close watch on use case trends in the video space. One common thread was present amongst the majority of the use cases that we encountered: customer service. Whether it was pre-sales support, post-sales customer assistance or expert consultations they all required some basic call functionality that wasn’t available through the standard OpenTok APIs.