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Celebrating 10 years of WebM and WebRTC

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Originally posted on the Chromium Blog

Ten years ago, Google planted the seeds for two foundational web media technologies, hoping they would provide the roots for a more vibrant internet. Two acquisitions, On2 Technologies and Global IP Solutions, led to a pair of open source projects: the WebM Project, a family of cutting edge video compression technologies (codecs) offered by Google royalty-free, and the WebRTC Project building APIs for real-time voice and video communication on the web.

These initiatives were major technical endeavors, essential infrastructure for enabling the promise of HTML5 with support for video conferencing and streaming. But this was also a philosophical evolution for media as Product Manager Mike Jazayeri noted in his blog post hailing the launch of the WebM Project:
“A key factor in the web’s success is that its core technologies such as HTML, HTTP, TCP/IP, etc. are open and freely implementable.”
As emerging first-class participants in the web experience, media and communication components also had to be free and open.

A decade later, these principles have ensured compression and communication technologies capable of keeping pace with a web ecosystem characterized by exponential growth of media consumption, devices, and demand. Starting from VP8 in 2010, the WebM Project has delivered up to 50% video bitrate savings with VP9 in 2013 and an additional 30% with AV1 in 2018—with adoption by YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, Twitch, and more. Equally importantly, the WebM team co-founded the Alliance for Open Media which has brought the IP of over 40 major tech companies in support of open and free codecs. With Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari supporting WebRTC, more than 85% of all installed browsers globally have become a client for real-time communications on the Internet. WebRTC has become a stable standard and it is now the default solution for video calling on the Web. These technologies have succeeded together, as today over 90% of encoded WebRTC video in Chrome uses VP8 or VP9.

The need for these technologies has been highlighted by COVID-19, as people across the globe have found new ways to work, educate, and connect with loved ones via video chat. The compression of open codecs has been essential to keeping services running on limited bandwidth, with over a billion hours of VP9 and AV1 content viewed every day. WebRTC has allowed for an ecosystem of interoperable communications apps to flourish: since the beginning of March 2020, we have seen in Chrome a 13X increase in received video streams via WebRTC.

These successes would not have been possible without all the supporters that make an open source community. Thank you to all the code contributors, testers, bug filers, and corporate partners who helped make this ecosystem a reality. A decade in, Google remains as committed as ever to open media on the web. We look forward to continuing that work with all of you in the next decade and beyond.

By Matt Frost, Product Director Chrome Media and Niklas Blum, Senior Product Manager WebRTC

Google Cardboard XR Plugin for Unity

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Late in 2019, we decided to open source Google Cardboard. Since then, our developer community has had access to create a plethora of experiences on both iOS and Android platforms, while reaching millions of users around the world. While this release has been considered a success by our developer community, we also promised that we would release a plugin for Unity. Our users have long preferred developing Cardboard experiences in Unity, so we made it a priority to develop a Unity SDK. Today, we have fulfilled that promise, and the Google Cardboard open source plugin for Unity is now available via the Unity Asset Store

What's Included in the Cardboard Unity SDK

Today, we’re releasing the Cardboard Unity SDK to our users so that they can continue creating smartphone XR experiences using Unity. Unity is one of the most popular 3D and XR development platforms in the world, and our release of this SDK will give our content creators a smoother workflow with Unity when developing for Cardboard.

In addition to the Unity SDK, we are also providing a sample application for iOS/Android, which will be a great aid for developers trying to debug their own creations. This release not only fulfills a promise we made to our Cardboard community, but also shows our support, as we move away from smartphone VR and leave it in the more-than-capable hands of our development community.



If you’re interested in learning how to develop with the Cardboard open source project, please see our developer documentation or visit the Google VR GitHub repo to access source code, build the project, and download the latest release.

By Jonathan Goodlow, Product Manager, AR & VR

Knative elects new Technical Oversight Committee members

Monday, May 18, 2020

Towards the end of 2019, Knative project initiated a series of changes to its governance to ensure sustainability in the long term. Over the last week, the project reached a new milestone by successfully wrapping up its first Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) elections, bringing more vendor diversity to the technical stewardship of Knative.

Google has grown thousands of open source projects throughout the years, and it is this collective knowledge that informed the changes proposed to Knative governance. Over the last six months, we worked together with the other members of the Knative Steering Committee, and with the project’s contributors to create a clear set of rules for technical leadership and governance, describing the many ways in which contributors could engage with the project. This process was key to developing trust with Knative’s community, the project’s most valued stakeholder. In the exercise of this vote, the community was able to test the new election process, which proved to be solid: it will be repeated annually for this project, and can serve as a model for other projects as well.

The TOC election, which had a turnout of 70% of active contributors to the project, yielded a new technical stewardship for Knative, with members representing RedHat, VMWare and Google, as follows:

Nghia Tran (Google) - new member
Markus Thömmes (Red Hat) - new member
Grant Rodgers (Google) - new member
Matt Moore (VMWare) - existing member
Evan Anderson (VMWare) - existing member

Members of Knative TOC not only have the technical stewardship of the project in their hands for the next two years, they also model the community’s values: they have strong technical skills, they contribute to the project, and they are collegial, mentoring other contributors and helping the project to grow in a sustainable and healthy way.

We celebrated this important milestone for Knative at the last community meetup. Watch the video to meet the new TOC members, and check out the contribution guidelines to join the project.

By María Cruz, Google Open Source
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