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Google Releases Video Chat Source Code

June 2, 2011 | William Zimmerman
WebRTC


Google has released the source code for a technology that it hopes developers will use to embed real-time video and voice chat functionality in their Web applications.

Google acquired the technology, called WebRTC (Web Real Time Communication), when it purchased VoIP (Voice over IP) software developer Global IP Solutions in 2010, for approximately US$68.2 million. The company said it would open source the technology early last month.

WebRTC is a set of voice and video signal processing technologies, which can be accessed by developers through HTML tags and JavaScript APIs (application programming interfaces).

Today, Internet audio and video chat services from companies such as Skype are chiefly proprietary, accessible through plug-ins and client downloads. Last month, Microsoft agreed to purchase Skype for $8.5 billion.

Google wants third-party developers to use the voice and video engines to create chat applications that can be run directly from within a browser. Global IP Solutions has built WebRTC-based mobile clients for Android, Windows Mobile and the iPhone. Ericsson Labs built a videoconference prototype with the technology as well.

The move to open source WebRTC echoes a similar move Google made when it acquired video compression provider On2 Technologies in 2010. Google subsequently released On2's VP8 video codec as open source to provide a royalty-free alternative to the widely used H.264 standard.







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