getUserMedia

All posts tagged getUserMedia

Back in October 2013,  the relative early days of WebRTC, I set out to get a better understanding of the getUserMedia API and camera constraints in one of my first and most popular posts. I discovered that working with getUserMedia constraints was not all that straight forward. A year later I gave an update after the situation with Chrome was greatly improved, but Firefox at the time effectively only supported a single resolution so constraints were not much help. Specifically, I am interested in understanding what happens when you ask for a specific resolution. You might want to have a specific resolution returned by getUserMedia if you want to match the camera resolution to a specific video area to have a 1 to 1 pixel correlation, in a computer vision application where each pixel represents a distance, or if you are dealing with non-standard video devices.

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No thoroughfare

“Only Secure Origins Are Allowed”

    – Chrome 47

Chrome 47 now forces secure origins (mostly) with HTTPS. This can be a pain to deal with, but Xander Dumaine is here to help with some guidance. Xander is a Senior Software Engineer who deals with the good and bad of WebRTC for Interactive Intelligence in Raleigh, NC. He is helping maintain simpleWebRTC and organises the Triangle WebRTC Meetup group in that area.

{“editor”: “chad hart“}

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Speak No Evil

A few days back my old friend Chris Koehncke, better known as “Kranky” asked me how hard it would be to implement a wild idea he had to monitor what percentage of the time you spent talking instead of listening on a call when using WebRTC. When I said “one day” that made him wonder whether he could offshore it to save money. Well… good luck!

A week later Kranky showed me some code. Wait, he is writing code? It was not bad – it was using the WebAudio API so going in the right direction. It was enough to prod me to finish writing the app for him.

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I’m at the IIT RTC Conference this week in Chicago which is an excellent, no-BS conference that featured many WebRTC luminaries and one of best events I have attended in a long time.

On Tuesday I moderated a panel with WebRTC contributors and ORTC promoters, Robin Raymond of Hookflash, Bernard Aboba of Microsoft, and Peter Thatcher of Google, asking many of the same questions I did on the ORTC Q&A several weeks ago.

Dan Burnett was in the room, asking a lot of questions. If you don’t know Dan, he is a long time W3C author and editor. He is also one of the Godfathers of WebRTC who was there right at the beginning. He also has a highly regarded book on WebRTC coauthored with Alan Johnston.

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Taking apart WebRTC camera resolution constraints part II. Photo courtesy of Flikr user Chia Wei Ong

Note: See February 2016 update here.

{“editor”, “chad“}

Last October I did a post on some quirks I found when applying camera resolutions constraints with getUserMedia. Surprisingly I found the resolutions that were returned were sometimes different than what you ask for, even if you make your constraints mandatory. Firefox didn’t support programmable video resolution constraints at all.

That was a while ago, so earlier this summer I checked my getUserMedia camera resolution finder again. This time Chrome 36 passed all my tests:

Ask Chrome 30 Chrome 36
1280×720 pass: 1280×720 pass: 1280×720
960×720 pass: 960×720 pass: 960×720
640×480 pass: 640×480 pass: 640×480
640×360 fail: 320×180 pass: 640×360
320×240 pass: 320×240 pass: 320×240
320×180 fail: 160×88 pass: 320×180

Constraint handling has clearly changed, but how? I could not find any coherent documentation on this, so I decided to update my resolution scanning code and re-run my analysis to empirically determine how mandatory constraints are handled.  If you choose to read-on below, you’ll see much has been fixed, but there are still a few nagging issues.

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Let’s have some more fun with getUserMedia by creating a simple mirror application and determining its frame rate.

If your user is going to send their video, it is a general best practice to let them see what they are sending. To do this you simply route the local video stream capture by getUserMedia to a <video> element inside the DOM. That is pretty easy, but the challenge is the video you see is not mirrored. When you are looking at yourself you expect to see a mirrored image. When you don’t it feels off and leads to a poor user experience. Ok, so everyone mirrors their local video, so let’s do that.

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movie camera-cropped

Photo courtesy Flickr user Tomás Fano 

Newer note: February 2016 update here.

Note: Behavior has changed with latest versions of Chrome (v35+). Please see my update to this post here.

{“editor”, “chad“}

I have a confession to make about my WebRTC Motion Detecting Baby Monitor – the video quality was inconsistent and poor on the baby side of my original demo video, so I swapped out my old HTC Thunderbolt for another laptop in the 2nd half of the video. The stream and motion processing consumes a full core on my 2 GHz Intel i7 laptop processor. Fortunately I have more cores there, but this would clearly be a problem for a lot of devices – both in terms of having enough CPU to meet the application’s demands and on battery life. There are also bandwidth concerns in the real world. I was am running everything over WiFi, so I was not too concerned about bandwidth, but there is no reason why one should not be able to run this on a LTE or 3G network where there are bandwidth constraints and data plan usage concerns.

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gum stuck on pole

As discussed in previous posts, the mission of the W3C WebRTC WG is to define client-side APIs to enable Real-Time Communications in Web-browsers. At a very high-level overview, there are three main steps to be taken when setting up a WebRTC session:

  • Obtain local media – provides access to local media input devices such as webcams and microphones
  • Establish a connection between the two browsers – peer-to-peer media session between two endpoints, including any relaying necessary, allowing two users to communicate directly
  • Exchange Media or Data – allows the web application to send and receive media or data over the established connection

The getUserMedia() method is generally used to obtain access to local devices and it requires user permission before accessing the device. In this post, John McLaughlin, Eamonn Power and Miguel Ponce de Leon from openRMC will be looking more closely at the getUserMedia() method, and how to deal with its outputs in order to give some meaningful feedback to the developer, and ultimately the end user. More concretely and quoting their own words:

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