Developer Feross Aboukhadijeh has created a new technology called WebTorrent that replicates the BitTorrent protocol but uses TCP and WebRTC, which allows it to work inside browsers instead of dedicated desktop applications.
The WebTorrent project was started a few years back, but Mr. Aboukhadijeh has only recently rededicated himself after services like Netflix and Hulu made online video streaming a popular technology.
With BitTorrent worldwide traffic plummeting in favor of online video delivered by companies like Netflix and YouTube, WebTorrent can present itself as a way for these companies to alleviate bandwidth-related costs.
As Mr. Aboukhadijeh explains in an interview for TorrentFreak, his technology can be used as an alternative to classic HTTP delivery system, which eats up a lot of bandwidth and also implies a server-client connection for each video viewer.
If WebTorrent were to be used, customers would make connections with each other and download small parts of the video files from other people. This way, the amount of data transferred from the server is much smaller, and information travels shorter distances between clients, improving speed and clearing up bandwidth for all users across the Internet, especially at peak hours.
The technology has already sparked the interest of people working at Netflix, who are actively hiring developers with WebTorrent expertize.
Additionally, small applications that use WebTorrent as their main core technology have started appearing online. Such examples are βTorrent, a torrent client that runs in your browser; WebTorrent App, as a way to build larger, bulkier applications without impacting bandwidth performance; and Peercloud, an innovative way to host websites without owning a server.
The only drawbacks to this technology are the fact that WebRTC is not yet fully supported in all major browsers and that WebTorrent can't yet talk to the classic BitTorrent protocol. The issue resides in the fact that WebTorrent works via TCP packets while BitTorrent works via UDP. Usually, an intermediary is needed to translate the data, but Mr. Mr. Aboukhadijeh says he's already working on the problem.