Real-Time Communication Explained
In today’s “instant” economy, real-time communication is more critical than ever.
This technology has single-handedly transformed our world into a global society. We can now communicate and exchange information rapidly, over great distances, like never before. We can do it as if the other person is in the same room as us.
In this article, we’ll take a look at real-time communication and why it’s a vital part of our day to day life. We’ll then discuss how subsets of this technology are changing the technology landscape of the future.
What is Real-Time Communication?
Real-time communication is any online communication that happens in real-time. Data is sent directly and instantly from the sender to the receiver and is not stored en route to the destination.
The telephone is just one classic example of a real-time communication.
This is in contrast to a timeshifting communication, where we send data and typically wait a period for it to be received, as well as another period before we get a reply. Snail mail and e-mail are perfect examples of this type of communication.
Real-time communications typically connect users peer-to-peer without any noticeable delays.
Either party can respond to each other through two methods. One method is half-duplex, where users can only send or receive at any given time, but not both. The other is full-duplex, which enables simultaneous sending and receiving.
Real-Time Communication Examples
There are plenty of examples of real-time communication in modern society. The most obvious example is when we call and talk with each other through mobile phones. It also includes Voice-Over-IP (VoIP) applications that route calls through the Internet instead of a telephone network, such as Skype.
Real-time messaging definitions also classify real-time messaging applications like Viber and WhatsApp as real-time communication. Whenever we send a message through these apps, it is sent directly to the recipient. We can freely reply with each other in real-time.
Beyond talking with each other, real-time communication can also be used to exchange data files. It’s often done through peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent.
Other notable applications of real-time communication include screen sharing, social media, and live video streaming platforms.
Why Real-Time Communication is Important
Real-time communications are a necessary part of our fast-paced modern society. Humans are social creatures that are built to talk to each other face-to-face. Real-time communication tools enable us to do this—or close to it—even if miles separate us.
The advent of real-time communication allows us to exchange critical information instantly. It has improved the level of service people get in their everyday lives. Customer complaints, for instance, can be sent to the company and resolved in a matter of hours, not days. Real-time communication can also save lives during emergencies by coordinating resources where they are needed the most.
Today, real-time communication is a critical component of almost every business and industry on Earth, from the local hospital to online education.
Applications for Business
Businesses have been reaping the benefits of real-time communication for years. It enables them to give faster and better service to their customers.
Real-time communications tools have also enabled companies to function much more efficiently. Employees can now work anywhere in the world, thanks to video conferencing and collaboration tools like Slack and Skype. It saves everyone from having to commute to and from work, increasing company productivity.
Even in traditional businesses with physical officers, real-time messaging allows teams to coordinate and get things done faster.
Real-time communication is also at the heart of some of the more innovative services to date. Platforms like Uber directly connect commuters and drivers on the road, in real-time, for their mutual benefit.
The Future of Real-Time Communication
Real-time communication definitions are blurring all the time. There are lots of trends that will heavily influence what this technology will be like in the near future.
One of these trends is the use of WebRTC, or Web-based Real-Time Communications. It enables HTML5-enabled browsers to make use of real-time communication technology, without the need of a third-party plug-in.
With the more widespread use of real-time communications on mobile phones, there is a concern around it straining most networks. The focus now is on how to scale these networks efficiently and make them more secure.
There is also the increased growth and development of Over The Top (OTT) services. For example, platforms like Netflix enable services to be offered directly to consumers via the Internet, bypassing distribution platforms like cable and phone networks.
As a leader in real-time voice and video chat and streaming, Agora is at the forefront of adapting this technology to seamlessly integrate with the most important aspects of our technological lives. For example, our Live Classroom Streaming makes real-time engagement a powerful tool for the future of education. Agora’s Interactive Streaming offers innovative businesses uses as well, allowing retailers to connect with and engage their customers in new and meaningful ways. When it comes to Agora and the future of real-time engagement, the possibilities are endless and will only improve over time and impact our lives for the better. At Agora.io, we aim to spearhead this trend with our innovative video chat API, voice API, audio streaming products, and more.
Sign up for free today or call us at 408-879-5885 to learn more about how we can integrate our technology into your next desktop or mobile application.