Web camera, which is usually called webcam, can be found easily in many Personal Computers today. Webcam is actually a tool that consists of a lens and image sensor. Similar to digital camera, the sensor can be CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) or CCD (charge-coupled device). It uses USB connection to connect to a PC.
With a webcam, a user with an internet connection can do various serious and leisure activities. If in the past you could only use keyboard to communicate with others, now you can see the faces of your friends or relatives who are at the other end. With its ability to provide video and audio streaming, this tool is perfect for conducting real-time video conference.
Apart from being commonly used for chatting or video conference, web camera has also been utilized for traffic monitoring. With TrafficCams, people are able to look up the traffic situation using internet for free. Webcam is also used to monitor wheather conditions in a particular area (WeatherCams). For these purposes there are websites that allow users to participate in providing such information with web cameras. By this way you can find out when there is a terrible traffic jam in another country.
There are also webmasters who use webcam to publish live images of beautiful places around the world. Now web surfers can enjoy the beauty of other countries easily, from beaches to mountainous terrains, whether just for hobby or to provide contents for websites, publishing live video feeds like this is useful for promoting tourist attractions.
Thanks to its simplicity, people start utilizing web camera for remote monitoring and surveillance. A standard PC now provides two USB connections. That means with the right surveillance software such as Webcam Looker or Active Webcam you can use multiple webcams for these purposes.
The main difference between surveillance software and common webcam software is the capability to send out various warning messages. With surveillance software you can receive email alerts or sms alerts. You can of course record any events using a webcam software, but to start recording only when there is a motion detected you need to use a webcam surveillance software.
Using web cameras to perform remote surveillance is an affordable way to keep an eye on your home whenever you are away from home. You can purchase a cheap webcam that costs you less than $50. If the quality of the images produced is not too important to you then such cheap webcams can suit you well. Some cheap web cameras that I have ever used can provide good images in 320x240 frame size.
However it depends on what you want to accomplish and your budget. There are also web cameras that provide interesting features such as autofocus, close-up and embedded microphone. The features, size, design and performance of a good webcam make it deserve to be used as a home monitoring device.
With a broadband internet connection, which is quite common today, you can provide high frame-rate broadcasting. This enables you to conduct remote video surveillance anywhere by real time video streaming. Some popular webcam security software also support multiple cameras so that you can simultaneously view images from different cameras in real-time.
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