We believe that real-time communication is fundamentally broken and fragmented on today’s internet. The internet is dominated by closed proprietary islands of communication like WhatsApp, Facebook, Hangouts for human communication, and a myriad different vendor silos for IoT device communication.
In this talk we discuss the various ways developers have tried to fix this problem in the past via XMPP, SIP, and other protocols, and propose a new solution in the form of Matrix: a new open standard for distributed communication.
Matrix is a set of pragmatic RESTful HTTP JSON APIs intended to be implemented on a wide range of servers, services, and clients, letting developers build arbitrary messaging and VoIP functionality on top of the Matrix ecosystem, rather than adding yet another closed/proprietary solution.
In Matrix, devices and users run Matrix clients, which connect through to a Matrix “homeserver” that stores all their communication history and user account information – much as a mail client connects through to an IMAP/SMTP server. Just like email, you can either run your own Matrix homeserver, which means you own and control your own communications and history – or you can use one hosted by someone else (e.g. matrix.org). There is no single point of control or mandatory service provider in Matrix. In fact, there is no single point of control over communication in Matrix at all – communication history is a first class citizen, with history replicated over all participating servers, avoiding single-points of failure or control as you get in XMPP MUCs.
So far, Matrix has been received positively by the WebRTC community by providing a much-needed pragmatic standardized HTTP JSON API for WebRTC call setup. But in the end, we hope Matrix will crack the problem of a widely successful open federated platform for any kind of data exchange on the internet, from group chat and WebRTC, to IoT and anywhere else you need a common data fabric to link together fragmented silos of communication!
Matthew Hodgson is technical co-founder of Matrix.org: an early-stage not-for-profit open source project focused on solving the problem of fragmentation in current chat, VoIP, and IoT technologies. By defining a new lightweight pragmatic open standard for federation/interoperability, and releasing open source reference implementations, Matrix hopes to create a new ecosystem that makes open real-time-communication as universal and interoperable as email. Matthew juggles Matrix.org with running the Unified Communications line of business within Amdocs (formerly MX Telecom), where he’s been building IP telephony solutions for 12 years. He has a BA in computer science and physics from the University of Cambridge.
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