Posts categorized "Video"

Wow! Cisco To Acquire Tropo's Communications Application Platform

Tropo siteWOW! In companion blog posts today Cisco and Tropo announced Cisco's intent to acquire the Tropo team and platform:

As someone who was at Voxeo in 2009 and helped launch Tropo (and wrote many of the early blog posts about it[1], as well as some of the python samples), I'm thrilled for the team there now that this is happening.[2]

Congratulations to all involved!

Over the years since leaving Voxeo, I've written about Tropo from time to time and continued to watch its progress. I've continued to be very impressed by what they've done over the years. They've truly made it easy for people to create powerful applications using simple programming languages.

It looks like the Tropo website is struggling right now so here is a snippet of their announcement post:

Six years ago we launched Tropo with the idea to make it easy to power phone calls through a simple API. Since then, we’ve empowered thousands of developers to add voice and messaging to their applications.

From our very first sign-up in 2009, to powering thousands of mobile and voice applications, our mission has been the same: to make real-time communications more accessible and productive through great APIs.

Today we’re thrilled to share that Tropo is joining Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group. Together we’ll enable completely new ways of communicating by opening up Cisco’s collaboration products to every developer on the planet (and maybe some off the planet…hey, they need collaborative tools on the International Space Station!)  :)

Knowing a good number of folks at Cisco, too, I think this is a great win for them in that they'll be able to make some of their products and services more accessible to developers.

I remember well back in 2009 when Jonathan Taylor (then CEO of Voxeo) brought in the Adhearsion team and "Voxeo Labs" was set up. Tropo was the first of the Voxeo Labs products, along with a number of others that were released over the following years. I watched as Voxeo Labs was then spun off from Voxeo in 2012 as a separate company and then Voxeo was acquired by Aspect in 2013... and Voxeo Labs was renamed to Tropo.

I watched, too, as the Tropo team continued their heavy involvement with WebRTC and brought that technology even deeper into their various services.

Congratulations to Jonathan Taylor, Jason Goecke, Johnny Diggz and all the rest of the Tropo team on this acquisition!

I look forward to seeing what Tropo and Cisco will do together to make it even easier to create voice, chat, messaging and other kinds of applications!

UPDATE #1: Jonathan Taylor has published a post on Facebook that outlines some of the history that led to this announcement. He includes this information related to Cisco:

We were even more surprised when Cisco approached us about acquiring Tropo. Selling Tropo was the last thing on our minds. But the potential was clearly huge for both companies, and over the course of the discussion, the deal terms clearly quite attractive. So here we are today!

UPDATE #2: A number of news stories are appearing on Techmeme.

UPDATE #3: Writing over on NoJitter, Zeus Kerravala dives into more detail about the acquisition based on his pre-briefing with Cisco's Rowan Trollope. Zeus' article: Cisco to CPaaS Providers: Game On!

[1] Although in the time since I left in 2011, my account was understandably removed from the Tropo site and the author on all those posts I wrote between 2009-2011 was changed to someone else. :-)

[2] In full disclosure, I should note that I am a very minor shareholder in Tropo after exercising a few options upon leaving Voxeo in 2011. I had no knowledge of this acquisition and have not participated actively with Tropo since leaving in 2011.

Join Live Today at 9:00 CDT - Internet Video Codec BOF at IETF92

Ietf square 1Can we create a royalty-free (RF) video codec that can be deployed ubiquitously and become the new open standard for video communication across the Internet?

THAT is the fundamental question of the Internet Video Codec (NETVC) Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) happening at IETF 92 in Dallas today, March 24, 2015, from 9:00-11:30 CDT (UTC-5). You can listen and participate live using the following links:

You also may want to view the presentation that will be used during the session.

The goal of the overall effort is defined as this:

  • Development of a video codec that is:

    • Optimized for real-time communications over the public Internet
    • Competitive with or superior to existing modern codecs 

    • Viewed as having IPR licensing terms that allow for wide implementation and deployment 

    • Developed under the IPR rules in BCP 78 (RFC 5378) and BCP 79 (RFCs 3979 and 4879)
  • Replicate the success of the CODEC WG in producing the Opus audio codec.

The BOF proposal contains more of a narrative:

The Internet needs a royalty-free (RF) video codec that can become the backbone for universal deployment of video related technologies. Royalty-bearing codecs put constraints on implementors that are unacceptable, but current RF codecs are not yet competitive with royalty-bearing offerings. This dilemma stalls innovation in the space and means large sets of consumers don't have access to the best video technology.

There are efforts underway by several groups to produce a next-generation, royalty-free (RF) video codec, including VP10 by Google and Daala by Mozilla/Xiph.Org. While far from complete, these efforts aim to surpass the royalty-bearing competition. Efforts within other standards organizations like MPEG to create RF video standards have been unsuccessful so far, but have showed that many consumer device manufacturers would support an RF codec.

The success of Opus from the CODEC WG has also shown that collaboration, based on the IETF's principals of open participation, can produce better results than competition between patented technologies. The IPR rules in BCP 78 and 79 are also critical for success. They impose a duty to disclose, and require exact patent or patent application numbers, in addition to basic licensing terms. This allows participants to evaluate the risk of infringement and, if appropriate, design work arounds, in any technology adopted, and assess the cost of adopting such technology. Because it does not force participants to agree to license their patents under RF terms, it helps to encourage participation even by those opposed to such terms (instead of guaranteeing they stay away). In addition to an environment which encourages third-party disclosures, this provides much better chances of success than SDOs which have a "patent-blind" process or which require blanket RF grants.

And the NETVC BOF agenda outlines the plan for the session today.

I do believe that creating this kind of royalty-free codec for Internet video is a critical step to enabling video to be used everywhere across the Internet... not just where people are able to pay to license royalty-bearing codecs. I'd like to see even more developer creativity and innovation unleashed with this action.

I'll be listening and participating remotely. I hope that many of you will join in as well. 9:00am US CDT today (10:00am for me on the US East Coast).

P.S. If you have no idea what the IETF is all about, you may want to skim The Tao of IETF first...

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Join Me On VUC Today At Noon US EDT To Talk IPv6, IoT, WebRTC and more...

Today at 12 noon US Eastern (in about 3.5 hours), I'll be part of a panel on the VoIP Users Conference (VUC) talking about IPv6, WebRTC, the Internet of Things (IoT) and much, much more... you should be able to watch it live at or embedded here:

VUC host Randy Resnick had a scheduled guest be unable to attend and so he asked a group of us to come on for what he is calling a "VUC Vision" session. I will be on there, as will, I believe, Tim Panton and a number of others. I expect the discussion should range over good variety of topics. It should be a good time... you're welcome to join in the discussion.

It's probably best to also join the IRC backchannel where links are shared, questions are answered and other comments occur. You also can visit the Google+ event page for the VUC session today where there may be additional links and info.

If you won't be at your computer, you can also call in via:

  • sip:[email protected]
  • +1 (646) 475-2098

The session will of course be recorded so you can listen/watch later.

Vuc vision 20141003

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Lesson Learned The Hard Way - Google+ Hangouts On Air ...

I learned a hard lesson today that Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) are limited to 4 hours in length.... and to read the rest of the story, visit Disruptive Conversations...

(Good lesson that I shouldn't be posting articles at 1:00am! But leaving this post up here for a bit because there are now social media links out there pointing to this URL...)

VUC Today: The Jitsi VoIP Softphone - Join The Call To Learn More!

JitsiWhat is new with the Jitsi softphone these days? What new capabilities does it have as it continues to expand its support of SIP, XMPP and other protocols?

I've long been a fan and user of Jitsi, in part because it supports IPv6 and is the only VoIP softphone I know of right now that supports DNSSEC, something I'm continuing to experiment with, so I'm looking forward to today's "VoIP Users Conference (VUC) call at 12 noon US Eastern - about 2.5 hours from now.

You can watch it live via a Google+ Hangout On Air, or call in (potentially using Jitsi!) via:

  • sip:[email protected]
  • +1 (646) 475-2098

There's also an IRC backchannel where links are shared, questions are answered and other comments occur.

And for those of you using Google+, there is a Google+ Event you can join.

It should be a good show! (And yes, you can watch it / listen to it later...)

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Alec Saunders Is A Rock Star In RIM's Strange New Blackberry 10 Video

BlackberryOh... my. As anyone who knows me can attest, it's extremely hard to render me speechless... but I admit to sitting here this morning staring at the screen with a rather uncomprehending expression on my face and with my mouth hanging open...

Sometime after my friend Alec Saunders joined RIM last year as their VP of Developer Relations, I said to someone that while I admittedly did view his new mission as somewhat akin to tilting at windmills, he was perhaps just the kind of "rock star" that RIM needed. A very passionate and dynamic presenter... a very charismatic leader who could rally people... a creative guy with a theatre background... someone who thinks differently...

... never in my wildest ideas did I expect that we would be seeing Alec AS an actual "rock star" in a music video! But yes indeed, here he is with two other VPs from RIM in a remake of the famous REO Speedwagon song. (Alec is the main singer.)


My speechlessness soon gave way to laughter ... and appreciation for them for doing something rather different. If they were looking for a way to be "remarkable" and memorable, they found it.

Now, somewhat predictably, some of the tech press are calling this an act of sheer desperation and I'm seeing comments in social networks calling it "painful" and "cringeworthy."

But that's the point, really... the video is getting people talking about Blackberry!

Even me, who hasn't really written about RIM and Blackberry here since, oh, last year shortly after he joined RIM. :-)

The video is over the top... I did cringe a couple of times as they twisted lyrics to fit the tune. But it made me smile. And laugh. And I'll remember it!

Will it attract new developers to the BB10 platform? Will it keep existing developers staying loyal to the platform?

I don't know. They have a huge uphill battle to fight. But hey, at least this was something fun and different!

Kudos to Alec and all the folks at RIM for what was obviously a great amount of time, energy and talent into doing something definitely unique!

And here's the full video for those who want the experience:

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Video: What Is WebRTC/RTCWeb All About? How Does WebRTC Work?

Do you want to understand what WebRTC / RTCWEB is all about and why so many people are passionate about its potential for extending real-time communications (voice, video, chat, data-sharing, etc.) into web browsers?

I recently wrote about some of the larger issues of how WebRTC will disrupt telecom, but in this video, "RTCWeb Explained", Cullen Jennings, one of the co-chairs of the IETF's RTCWEB working group, dives down into the technical details to explain how it all works and what the various different components of of the solution are. I particularly like how Cullen covered some areas like "identity" that I haven't seen stressed as much in other pieces about WebRTC. The video comes in at about 39 minutes and is well worth viewing:

For more information, I've put together a page about the broader WebRTC / RTCWEB initiative with links to relevant resources.

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Video: An Excellent Tour Of Voxeo's Awesome New Office!

Voxeo logoMy friends and former colleagues at Voxeo have produced a truly outstanding video giving a tour of the incredible space they have created in Orlando, Florida:

Kudos to the Voxeo marketing team for creating this video! And congrats to Jonathan Taylor and the rest of the team for realizing his vision of creating a truly unique working space and corporate culture in Orlando.

I'd note that Voxeo is quite often hiring and truly is a great company to work for. If you're looking for a job in the communications space with an excellent team of people, you should definitely check them out!

(Full disclosure: I worked for Voxeo from 2007-2011 and remain a shareholder.)

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Skype's HD Video Quality IS Amazing!

As much as I may criticize Skype at times, I continue to be impressed by the technology they create and the powerful ways in which Skype enables us to communicate. Yesterday Jim Courtney called me to test out the "upgraded" Internet connection at his home in Toronto and he used the Logitech C920 webcam he recently reviewed while I used my MacBook Pro laptop.

I swear I could probably count every hair in Jim's mustache!

Skype Video

The video quality was truly amazing (and if you click on the image above, you'll get a slightly bigger version - I was not viewing it in full-screen when I made the capture). Looking at the technical specs for the call, Jim was sending 1280x720 using the H264 codec. I was apparently also sending that level of quality over to Jim (although using the VP80 codec).

The audio quality was also excellent and we had a great call. Obviously, Jim's upgraded Internet connection worked perfectly fine! ;-)

Kudos to Skype for making this amazing quality of video calling available - for free - to all of us!

For those curious, here is the detailed technical info for our call:


P.S. If you weren't aware that you can get this kind of info, you need to first enable it on the Advanced panel of the Skype for Mac Preferences. Then you can choose "Technical Call Info" from the Window menu (or just press Cmd+5).

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Google+ Turns Hangouts Into a Free Conference Calling Service With Free Voice Calls in US and Canada

Fascinating move by Google today... Google+ now allows you to add voice-only phone calls into a "Hangout", allowing you to create conference calls of both video and voice participants. Announced by Googler Jarkko Oikarinen, it is available inside of "Hangout with extras" and allows voice calls out to US and Canadian numbers for free.

When I launched a Hangout (with extras) and then chose the link to invite others, I was presented with an extremely simple screen to add a voice call:


Once the participant had joined, they showed up in the hangout screen above the video participants (only me in this trial case):

Google Plus Hangout With Voice

No word that I've seen yet on a maximum number of people that can be conferenced into a Google+ Hangout, but I'm sure someone will try that out shortly and we'll have an answer.

UPDATE: Jarkko Oikarinen has clarified in a comment to his post that "each hangout participant can have at most two simultaneous PSTN calls ongoing." From that wording I'm guessing that I could call out to 2 people on the PSTN, and another participant could call out to two more, and so on...

Calls are limited to the US and Canada, although TechCrunch is reporting that Google recommends Google Voice for low rates on international calls.

Now, mixing voice and video calls together is not something dramatically new. Skype has done this for quite some time now within their Group Video Calling service. Still, it's a cool step forward for Google+ and may provide an way to get more people using the Hangouts service.

At the very least, it may provide a way for some of the folks using Hangouts as a way of hosting regular video podcasts to include guests or callers who are not able to establish a video connection or use Hangouts directly. I'm thinking particularly of people who may be mobile or in places with low bandwidth. Or just simply a guest who doesn't want to use video or isn't a user of Google+.

Free conference calls?

I suspect some folks may certainly use this as a way to create free conference calls. As I proved in my own testing, only the originator of the Hangout needs to use the Hangouts feature of Google+. He or she can then simply call everyone else and bring them into the conference call.

However, given that

  1. you can't yet choose from a list of contacts and have to instead enter each phone number individually; and

  2. people can't call in to the hangout; and

  3. per the update above, each participant can only conference in 2 PSTN callers.

I don't expect people to instantly stop using the zillion conference calling services out there. However, it certainly shows a sign of Google's direction and given the rate of change within Google+ I wouldn't be surprised to see enhancements to, for instance, at least store phone numbers coming at some point soon.

It would be very cool if there was a way to start a Hangout with a Circle... and have Google+ automagically connect out everyone in the circle via either video or phone... but who knows, that may come, too!

P.S. And if you are on Google+, why not add me to a circle if you haven't already done so?

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