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Acano I canChris Koehncke
I recently had the chance to speak with Dr. Mark Blake, the CTO of Acano, about their offering and his perspectives on WebRTC. Mark is no stranger to media processing having been a co-founder of Codian, a UK developer of video MCU’s which was acquired by Tandberg in 2002 and what is today Cisco. Deep in the heart of the Cisco Telepresence systems elements of Codian software are still doing their job.
The Acano key executives all have a long heritage in the video conferencing industry. Acano is bringing a fresh look with the concept of cospaces. Namely Acano promotes that collaboration will come from a variety of input devices that will all need to play nicely together. Acano is about providing that experience.
In a trend I’m seeing in these new era companies, Acano isn’t a hardware company, but you can buy hardware from them. Not a service provider either, but they do have a trial service as well. It’s an interesting trend these hybrid companies. The fact is they’re focused on providing an application. How it’s delivered is based upon the customer needs. Fundamentally though they’re a software company.
Acano provides a connector function allowing various video and audio end points to interconnect. Acano figures out the right routing, gets the signaling right and determines how to offer each device the best experience (a factor of the device, bandwidth and quality). Acano isn’t in the end point business (cameras or desktops) so they focus on this as their core competency. The company has been in beta (with about 25 customers, but recently announced GA) and they’re expected to target the large enterprise market.
WebRTC with it’s voice & video capabilities was early on in the sight as an Acano offering and I spoke with Mark via their clean corporate slate grey web interface about his prospective. Like so many, Mark immediately commented that their development effort for WebRTC was considerably less than they expected. He acknowledged that the amount of IPR Google has provided to WebRTC was considerable and powerful.
The speed of WebRTC core components is amazing as well. Mark indicated that 6 months ago, he would have deemed WebRTC nearly unusable, trade show demo quality. Today, he noted, WebRTC is certainly quite usable (as he demonstrated) though with some caveats. The question, Mark pondered, ” how fantastic will be in another 6 months?”
Mark admitted WebRTC still has some bugs, particularly when running outside the Chrome-to-Chrome world with remaining issues about device selection and particularly screen sharing. But he could clearly see the opportunity that awaits and it’s not far off.
Acano is a new company, in a new space, thinking about new ways to communicate – we’re beyond a simple phone or video conversation.