Agora announced this week that it will invest $ 100 million in real-time engagement apps and tools, touting the technology as a significant step forward in a more digitally connected world.
Executives from Agora and dozens of others spoke at the company’s RTE2021 conference this week, touting how real-time engagement technology has grown in importance, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With millions of people stuck working and learning from home, Agora said there had been an explosion of interest in using real-time engagement for everything from health services to games, in through education and even work.
The growth in the use of technology has coincided with the emergence of metaverse tools that seek to create digital worlds where people from anywhere can congregate, share, and collaborate online.
Agora CEO Tony Zhao said the pandemic disruption has made people seek more natural interactions with each other, and he noted that many people are now tired of simple video connections.
With real-time engagement, people were able to build a list of new tools, applications, and solutions. Zhao said that Agora’s internal data showed that there was an explosion in demand for mental health services as well as more social entertainment, gaming services and even fitness apps accessible at all times and anywhere.
He noted that demand for telemedicine services increased by more than 4,000% last year and that real-time engagement has helped health officials simulate physical visits to doctors’ offices. New metaverse has also made it possible for people to work and learn together across the world.
Zhao cited the success of Tribe XR as an example of the value that real-time engagement can bring. Tribe XR CEO Tom Impallomeni explained that technology has enabled them to create a virtual world where DJs and music producers can train, perform and perform for digital audiences.
They use virtual reality systems to simulate DJ equipment and help people learn to DJ through VR headsets.
In partnership with Agora, the company is now offering users a way to download music and play on Twitch, Youtube and through integration with other metavers.
Agora’s real-time engagement platform has helped Tribe XR create a video calling system where educators and performers can connect with audiences from any device without using virtual reality.
“Real-time engagement technologies take people out of their remote islands and silos, connecting them in a more natural and meaningful way. From New York to San Francisco, from Bangalore to Dubai, physical distance is no longer an obstacle, ”said Reggie Yativ COO of Agora.
Through the Agora platform, teachers created apps that allowed them to reach thousands of students in real time while entrepreneurs and activists were able to use interactive audio streaming and live broadcasting to create discussion forums, organize live roundtables and participate in events.
Everything from songs to dates, cooking and shopping can be done using the real-time engagement platforms.
One of the main areas of real-time engagement is seeing interest in games. Barbara Pickering, head of innovation and technology at HP, spoke at length about the HP Omen games division that has been working hard on Omen Oasis, which is part of the Omen games hub software.
Pickering said HP is working with Agora to combine gaming experiences with video streaming. Although platforms like Twitch and others have become popular, many gamers only want to share video streams with a small group of friends, as opposed to a larger, one-sided audience.
With Omen, gamers can communicate via video, watch each other play through games, and spend time together.
Pickering said this has been difficult to facilitate because streaming and sharing video while gaming is demanding, requiring high-quality rendering and smooth movement.
“Our challenge is to bring the game into a common space like watching someone play an arcade game over their shoulder,” Pickering said, adding that the shared and interactive real-time experiences have become a reality. huge business. Over 60% of players want to share their game with other players, but most only want to share it with a group of 20 people or less.
“Gamers often want to share with their friends and have the experience interactive. For that, you need a real-time solution. Agora wants to stream in real time, with latency in the order of milliseconds. , and the investments they made in backend infrastructure and proprietary algorithms to optimize network traffic and video streams have helped Omen Oasis extend the gaming experience to be even more socially engaging beyond typical multiplayer dynamics, ”noted Pickering.
“With Oasis, we are providing a very simple interface for people to get started with social game sharing with an emphasis on audio and video sharing.”
Agora said real-time engagement is also used by mental health platforms like Talkspace as well as training platforms.
Edward Krakus, senior vice president of products at Agora, touted their software-defined real-time network – called SD-RTN – which enables developers to scale quickly and deliver smooth real-time media streaming.
“The network-adaptive streaming architecture combines variable rate streaming technology with proprietary logic that delivers the best media experience for every user,” Krakus explained, noting that the tool is designed to create experiences for great variety of devices, video processing speeds and WiFi. Connections.
Krakus said Agora wanted to make it easier for developers to use the company’s API for an expanded set of use cases.
With API and SD-RTN, developers will have the ability to publish multiple feeds from any device, control subscription feeds, expand their channel management capabilities, and access advanced layout controls that support sophisticated management of video display as needed for virtual events and educational use cases, Krakus said.
“The ability to democratize access to RTE technology and accelerate time to market for developers is another area in which Agora continues to invest,” Krakus added, noting that Agora App Builder has generated great interest.
People have built flexible video experience platforms and even classroom tools to facilitate online learning applications.
The Agora Extensions Marketplace also has dozens of fun tools that can be added to apps like face filters, voice filters, and content moderation tools.
Virginia Liu, senior vice president of ecosystems at Agora, said the company plans to invest $ 100 million in the RTE ecosystem, hoping it will continue to “change the way we work, live and play. the future”.