The AT&T Developer Summit brings together some developers, advocates, and sponsors for a five-day event that includes a hack-a-thon, technical education and visionary inspiration on wireless and wireline communications. Positioned as pre-CES event and held in the Palms Las Vegas, the event is a great opportunity to learn about the vision AT&T sees in the way people and machines will communicate. With big announcements from AT&T about WebRTC at the same event last year, I was curious to see what progress was made in the past 12 months and whether the promises came to fruition.
The event kicks off with a two-day hack-a-thon, with 20 teams competing for a substantial pot of prize money and fame. From medical assistance, home automation, to managing youngster’s TV habits, the applications leveraged a host of AT&T and other related technologies. Of particular interest to me were the five applications that utilized the new AT&T WebRTC API and services – adding telephone calling capabilities to web applications. A typical use case was best demonstrated by the grand-prize winning team “KineticCare” – who created a health monitoring application that collects and reports vital stats of a user, detecting a cardiac anomaly and automatically calling pre-programmed emergency services or family members that can quickly lend assistance. Other applications using WebRTC included an application to detect that elderly users have fallen, an application to screen phone usage when on school grounds (using a geofence), a First-aid advisory application that would connect a Good Samaritan with professional EMT advice while waiting for help to arrive. Check out the list of all the hacks.
During the expo, AT&T demonstrated a sample WebRTC application at their stand, showing how easy it is for developers to integrate a basic phone capability into their applications using the AT&T Developer platform. Priced at a low-cost $99/year plus usage, the developer platform gives access to the AT&T WebRTC developer tools along with PSTN access for development and testing purposes. Once production volumes were reached (1 million transactions), the program required a high-volume pricing commitment. You can learn more about the program and pricing at: developer.att.com/webrtc
For those that wanted a deeper understanding of what AT&T offered with WebRTC, Jason Unrein, Senior Product Marketing Manager for AT&T hosted a day-long track on Real-Time Communications. The track included a deep-dive tutorial session on integrating WebRTC with the AT&T Developer tools, a session with a number of WebRTC users and a session on visionary thoughts on where WebRTC is going from Chad Hart of webrtcHacks
As interesting as the technology at the event was, the Monday evening keynote by Kevin Spacey was the highlight. As a well-known actor, one might wonder “what does this have to do with communications?” After sharing some background on his career and experiences, he pointed out that the communications technology business is really about storytelling. Whether one-on-one or one-to-many like his “House of Cards” series on Netflix, storytelling is how people best communicate. As he put it “the most powerful six words are Let Me Tell You A Story”. This is especially true in an always-connected and multi-tasking world where 140 characters is the typical attention span. His point was by storytelling, we can capture the mind, share wisdom, or entertain – no matter whether the medium is a TV mini-series, a Vine or a series of tweets. As technologists, we need to facilitate the story telling, helping make the connection with the listener. The AT&T Social Media team published a great summary of Kevin Spacey’s entire keynote.
I walked away from the event pleased with the progress on WebRTC, excited by the IoT announcements and energized by the message from Kevin Spacey. I’m looking forward to next year, hoping to have Dialogic participate in a deeper way, bringing advanced media processing to the AT&T Developer toolkit.
You can learn more about the event and join the discussion on the AT&T Developer Network web site.