ClueCon 2015 Recap

ClueCon

I’ve just returned from ClueCon 2015. It was easily the most successful ClueCon I’ve yet experienced. Besides seeing so many regulars from the FreeSWITCH community, I was pleasantly surprised by the increase in patronage from other VoIP worlds, especially Asterisk and WebRTC. Seeing so many friends in one place was great. ClueCon is really living up to the ideal of being the Open Source Communications Conference.

Big Themes: WebRTC & Server-side Video

WebRTCClueCon 2015 was dominated by two themes:

  • WebRTC
  • FreeSWITCH Video (especially the new MCU)

A larger-than-ever percentage of the talks were focused on WebRTC. Considering that the first “What is WebRTC” talks at ClueCon were just two years ago, it has clearly gained a lot of interest. I think it is becoming clear to a majority that WebRTC is “when”, not “if”. We are beyond simply the excitement of browser vendors and a few specialized apps. Instead, we’re seeing widespread interest and adoption among different communities with different ideas of what WebRTC can do for them. This is great!

Recording and Transcoding WebRTC

The second point, FreeSWITCH Video Support, fits like a fine glove over the hand of WebRTC Apps. Where FreeSWITCH’s new video support gets really interesting is how it is perfectly positioned to support WebRTC. Because WebRTC is primarily a client-focused technology, we often struggle to find good ways to record WebRTC conversations, especially video. FreeSWITCH has provided us an exciting answer to this question. But beyond simple recording, we now have all new options for mixing and selecting video server-side. This has the potential to reduce client bandwidth requirements further, and could even help mobile devices’ battery life by offloading the video mixing and audio processing to the server.

FreeSWITCHWidespread video calling has long been hampered by roadblocks. Between the lack of bandwidth, underpowered hardware, expensive software, and frustrating patent licenses, video calling simply wasn’t practical. With WebRTC, those problems are largely settled. Now, every new laptop and mobile devices comes with at least one (and often two) cameras. Mobile bandwidth may still be limited, but when on Wifi it’s plenty (and even then, video chats like Skype and FaceTime work great on mobile). Perhaps most importantly we can all thank Google and Mozilla for the ubiquitous video client built right in to every Chrome and Firefox web browser.

A New Look at VoIP Security

ClueCon Security Roundtable

Phil Zimmermann joined Travis Cross, James Body, and Alan Johnston at ClueCon via SilentCircle for the Security Round Table

One of the reasons to love ClueCon is the level of presenters who turn up. This year’s security round table included people like Phil Zimmerman, the inventor of PGP, along with his Silent Circle colleague, Travis Cross. Also included were Alan Johnston, who besides being one of the authors of THE book of WebRTC, demonstrated interesting Man-in-the-Middle attacks on WebRTC this year.

At telephony conferences each year we get the usual talk on VoIP toll fraud. While it’s clearly an important topic, it’s not new anymore. This year at ClueCon I saw Michael Giagnocavo of Wiresight give a terrific talk on a completely different angle of voice application security. He looked at ways SIP headers can be abused. SIP is still a wild west, and the huge number of sometimes-contradictory specifications only makes it worse. He also looked at ways attackers might provide bogus caller ID (and other metadata) to compromise systems. This is important work, I’m glad he’s shining a light on it.

FreeSWITCH Everywhere, and Not A Phone In Sight

More and more, we are asked to assist clients looking to integrate WebRTC into their business processes. They want to know how FreeSWITCH can help their web and mobile apps. My presentation addressed the importance of FreeSWITCH in the near future, and how will it enable the next generation of communications applications.

Dangerous Demos 2015

David Duffett  James Body Dangerous Demo ClueCon 2015

James Body congratulates David Duffett on his Dangerous Demo Win

James Body’s favorite competition returned to ClueCon. I’ve always enjoyed participating in these as a contestant, but at James’ suggestion this year, I was a judge. Joining me on the judges’ panel was Mira Georgieva from Zoiper. In hindsight, I’m glad I wasn’t a competitor as the competition was fierce! The 13 Dangerous Demos that we had showed remarkable creativity and polish. The following are this year’s winners:

  • Best Crash & Burn: Dayton Turner of Voxter, for “Freeship”, or what was supposed to be the classic game Battleship played via WebRTC.
  • Audience Choice: Seven Du for his X11 server that fed video into FreeSWITCH
  • Judges’ Choice: David Duffett For his FreeSWITCH-logoed battery powering Asterisk on Raspberry Pi

But besides the winners, I want to mention a couple of standout entrants that sadly did not go home with a trophy:

  • Anthony Minnesale’s Dangerous Demo was Hollywood Squares projected to the screen via WebRTC/Verto and separately controlled by DTMF from a cell phone. Mira and I had to answer FreeSWITCH trivia questions to fill in the grid.

  • Tim Panton drove a Lego robot on stage. But he didn’t just drive it: he used a QR code generated by the Lego robot to automatically and securely pair his mobile device with the robot, similar to his YoPet application. This has interesting IoT + WebRTC implications.

Thanks to the ClueCon Organizers!

Bryan West’s efforts to provide a comfortable space for the conference really paid off. Not just for listening to talks but also comfortable chat space for having those critical side conversations. A special shout out to Ken Rice and Kathleen King. These two have been hard at work coordinating communication from the rest of the FreeSWITCH & ClueCon teams. Their hard work is clearly paying off. We’re better informed than ever.

ClueCon 2015 was great! Can’t wait to see you all there again next year.

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