January 06, 2014

HTML5 Interactive Video on the Way, Held Back by Browsers

While WebRTC is still attempting to establish standards, particularly in terms of video, it seems that HTML5 as a whole will soon be taking video to the next level. In particular, it seems that HTML5 video interactivity should become a standard in Web browsers sometime within the near future.

According to Chuck Hudson, co-author of “The HTML5 Developer’s Cookbook,” in a recent interview, this feature likely won’t be getting much focus and as such won’t pop up until upwards of 18 months from now. Still, once it does become standard, it will surely change the way we view video on the Web.

"Everyone’s used to embedding video now from the major sites for streaming videos. But where we typically leave it off is just leaving the user to view the video and not actually engaging them and being interactive," Hudson told Streaming Media at a conference. "The talk today was about adding components and adding experiences via things like subtitling and metadata onto the video itself to allow people to actually click on items in the video, hotspots, have better navigation with the video experiences and, overall, engage the user much more."

Some companies have already begun experimenting with the possibilities interactive video has to offer. Questionmine, for example, actually leverages WebRTC to allow for the creation of video surveys, quizzes, polls and assessments, complete with branching dialogue paths that change depending on users’ answers. Appropriately, the company stands by the slogan “ditch the monologue, join the dialogue.”

Implementing similar functionality in Web browsers will allow more companies to experiment with the potential of interactive, Web-based video. As it stands, though, browser creators are the major factor slowing this down, with the main challenge being, according to Hudson, getting them all to implement interactive HTML5 video “in a consistent manner.”

Fortunately, basic elements like the video element and source tags are already widely and consistently supported. Less common elements like text tracks and cues, however, will present a challenge in terms of reliability and consistency across different browsers.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker


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