Review of IIT RTC Conference and TADHack Chicago

IIT RTC

This week the center of the RTC (Real Time Communications) World was the IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology) in Chicago as people from around the world gathered at IIT RTC to discuss:

  • IPTComm (devoted to academic and industrial research in IP-enabled communications and services);
  • Mobile Networks, Platforms and Applications;
  • WebRTC and Cloud Communications;
  • Next Generation Emergency Communications Services (the people here are active in telecoms regulation, so you get a good insight into what’s happening at the FCC);
  • Internet of Things (this was a new stream at IIT RTC, and a highlight for me); and
  • The Genband Kandy Mobile was also there :)

The winners from TADHack Chicago are reviewed in this weblog. They also had a chance to pitch at a IIT RTC Keynote session on Tuesday to the whole of the conference. I’d like to thank Carol, Warren, Tom and all the IIT students for their support in making TADHack Chicago a success.

My focus here is to give a few of the many highlights from the conference. IIT RTC is unique in its purity, its lack of corruption by marketing. Most events can only be described as Digital-Tripe, as marketing people with no practical (development/sales) experience regurgitate other weak-minded marketing material, all of which has been corporately approved for its blandness and detachment from reality. You simply can not get away with that at IIT RTC, which leads to significant and often heated discussions.

Before the main conference there were 2 tutorials on:

  • WebRTC from Alan Johnston, Distinguished Engineer, Avaya; and Adjunct Professor, IIT SAT and Dan Burnett, Principal, Burnett Consulting Services, and
  • Federated Identity from Daniel Wagner-Hall, Software Engineer, Matrix.org.

Alan and Dan sift through the noise around WebRTC standards, its implementation, and help you understand what is practically possible today. Daniel gave an insightful presentation on Identity, it left me with many more questions than answers, but an appreciation of the massive potential in this difficult area.

All the presentations can be downloaded from the IIT RTC agenda, just click on the down arrow at the bottom of each presentation description. I will highlight one presentation that for me was the best I’ve seen on IoT, “IoT: Harder Than We Think And More Valuable” by Chris Rezendes. He presented the frank reality of IoT, he works at the sharp-end with many businesses. The most significant challenge with ‘instrumenting the real world’ is its a multi-stakeholder problem. He reviewed case studies from the water crisis facing the US to the practical realities of IoT on building-sites. He’s immensely upbeat on IoT, but its going to take much, much longer than marketeers would have us believe. This for me captured the essence of IIT RTC, its real not fluff discussions.

WebRTC was also a core theme through the conference. From the Monday tutorial to a common theme through almost all the sessions. I was reminded during the sessions of a comment Dan Jenkins made to me last week. “We’ve done a bad job in educating developers on WebRTC.” Many developers find the current complexity, patchy browser coverage, and many failure conditions and tough debugging frustrating. The use of WebRTC is growing dramatically as I discussed in this weblog, Enterprises are Now Driving the Bulk of Telecoms Innovation. But it will likely remain an enabling technology behind the many platform offers for several years to come.

If you’re wanting to get an unfiltered read on the state of real-time communications, IIT RTC is the place to be.