Web Cam Tips

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What is a web cam?

Go Digital With A Web Cam

A web cam takes digital pictures and sends them over the Internet. It is similar to a digital camera because it can be used to take still digital pictures of whatever it sees. However, it is more like a video camera because it captures moving pictures (or very fast stills). A key aspect of a web cam is that the pictures it takes are accessible over the Internet.
A web cam or web camera allows people who have an Internet connection to see each other and their surroundings when they talk. This is known as live video chat. The quality of the images will depend on the rate at which image frames are captured.
The first web cam was created in 1991 by computer scientists at Cambridge University, England, where it was used to take pictures of a coffee pot. Since then, web cams have pervaded modern life. Not only can web users see and talk to people around the world, but they can also monitor weather and traffic in both near and far locations. Web cams also have many applications in business and security.

How does web conferencing work?

Doing The Biz

Web conferencing is the use of streaming audio and video to communicate with a group of people at different locations. This is an extension of teleconferencing, which has been used in business for many years. Teleconferencing allows a group of people to talk to each other or hold a meeting without being in the same room. Web conferencing extends that use by allowing the people who are meeting to see each other.
Web cams are a key element of video conferencing as they allow moving images to be transferred over the Internet. People who are taking part in an online meeting of this type need computers which have an Internet connection, video capture cards and microphones or VOIP connections. Meetings can take place in a virtual meeting room to which participants are invited. This is commonly hosted on a web site or web page.
Web conferencing does more than provide live video of a meeting. Participants can use technologies such as instant messaging to share files and send private messages. There are also programs such as whiteboards that allow people to annotate presentations. Most web conferencing applications allow for encryption and other security devices, as people generally like the content of their meetings to be private.

How do I set up a web cam?

Three Steps To Set Up Your Web Cam

Setting up a web cam is very easy, as long as you have a computer. First, buy a web cam from a local computer dealer or an online store.
Next, install the software that comes with the camera and attach the camera to the computer with the attached cable. This will usually be a USB cable. It may be worth considering a wireless connection or an extra long cable to increase the range of your web cam.
Finally, point the camera at something, start up the software on your PC and a picture should appear.
Basic web cam setup is very easy. Some users may want to experiment with image resolution. High resolution images will be of a better quality but will take longer to stream over the Internet. Lower resolution images can be streamed more quickly but will be of poor quality. Streaming speed may be a consideration for those using dial up connections.

How can web cams be used in education?

School's In

Web cams offer great opportunities for educational institutions to use video conferencing. With nothing more than a web cam, a microphone and an Internet connection, educators can teach and hold seminars online.
A web-inar uses all the advantages of interactivity. In many cases it can be done using free or open source software. Pioneering distance learning institutions such as the Open University in the UK now use different technologies for small group seminars and classes with up to 30 people.
Some applications allow teaching and learning to happen in real time so that everyone sees and hears the same thing. Applications such as interactive whiteboards and the use of multimedia files enhance the teaching and learning environment. Web cams and other interactive technologies can also enhance traditional education.

What are web cams used for?

Live And Direct

The use of web cams has progressed beyond the images of a coffee maker taken by the first web cam in 1991. Web cams now have several applications. Hidden web cams are often used by police and security services to monitor streets, town centers, banks and other important buildings. In many cases the feeds from these live web cams are available on web sites, so that people can monitor what is happening in their local area.
Web cams can also be used for live video chat. Some people use personal web cams to communicate with friends and family. This may involve creating a web site and uploading images from the web cam. Some people have used this in the past to put adult material on the Internet.
In business, web cams can be used for video conferencing as well as monitoring office spaces in buildings. Many universities and colleges use web cams to show what is happening inside classrooms and around the campus. There is also the possibility of using web cams for distance education.

What is video chat?

Now You See It ...

Video chat is like instant messaging, but with pictures. As with instant messaging, users can type text messages to communicate with other users. However, web users can also see video (or pictures) of the people they are chatting with. The video footage is taken with a web cam and streamed live onto the Internet, but users do not always need a web cam to see and hear it. This is because the captured video images can usually be accessed from a web page. If users have speakers they will also be able to hear what the other person is saying.
If users want to have a live video chat between two or more people, all the participants must have a web cam. This means that all users will be able to see live images and hear live sound. This will make the chatting experience even more interactive. Using a web cam enhances the possibilities of video chat. This type of technology has been used to good effect in business and education. In business, web cams have been used for video conferencing. In education, web cams have been used for webinars.

What's the difference between a digital camera and a web cam?

The Digital Difference

A web cam is essentially a digital camera that is connected to the Internet. A web cam takes images in the same way. However, software is needed to turn a digital camera into a web cam. A web cam must also be connected to a computer by means of a USB cable or a wireless connection. This allows people to use web cams to capture and send moving images.
A key term with web cams is the frame rate. The more frames a web cam can take per second, the more like a real moving picture the image will be. A high speed internet connection is also essential to make the most of web cams for applications such as live video chat.

How does a web cam work?

Take It To The 'Net

Like a digital camera, a web cam has a lens, an image sensor and a few electronic parts. On some web cams the lenses rotate to allow users to zoom in and out. Most web cams also have a button to allow users to take still pictures. In order to use a web cam, users need the camera itself, a connection to the computer (usually via USB) and some software to make the camera work.
Once the software has been installed, all users have to do is experiment with positioning the camera and rotating the lens to get the best possible picture. In order to get the best from a web cam, users should consider using it with instant messaging for live video chat. This will allow web users to be in touch with other users from around the world.
A web cam is essentially a digital camera connected to the Internet. It is the software that transforms it into a web cam. A web cam takes a picture and sends it across the Internet. Still pictures are usually taken in JPEG or TIFF format; video pictures are usually taken in a streaming format and can be saved as AVI or MOV files.
Image quality and frame rate are two key issues with web cams. Frame rate is the rate at which the image is refreshed. A good frame rate is at least 5 frames per second. This gives the illusion that the picture is constantly moving.

How can I use my web cam to get interactive?

Getting Interactive With Web Cams

For many years now, companies such as AOL, Yahoo and others have allowed users to talk to each other using a technology called instant messaging (IM). Instant messaging allows people to communicate by typing in what they want to say and sending this across the internet. Users have also been able to go into private chat rooms and conduct a text-based conversation.

Some companies have used this to help their customers by providing live video chat. Live video chat allows web users to use their computers to access help and experts on a range of issues in real time. A web cam allows the users to have two way video communication.
While instant messaging requires only a computer connected to the Internet, live video chat calls for other hardware and software. Users will need to equip their computers with a microphone and video capture card as well as the web cam.

What are some of the advanced features of modern web cams?

Beyond The Basics of Web Cams

Setting up a basic web cam is quite easy but there are many advanced features that will help users to get more from using web cams. These include:
Streaming media - configuring web cams to use the industry standard compression system for computer media players. This means the video taken by the web cam can be played by many more people.
Motion sensing - setting up the web cam so that it takes a new picture whenever something moves within its range. This could be particularly useful for home security applications.
Image archiving - saving the images or video taken by a web cam at predetermined intervals. This could also be useful for security purposes.
Video messaging - this takes instant messaging to a new level by allowing users to see the people they are talking to. Video messaging enhances instant communication.
Remote or robotic control - this allows users on a web page to control the camera so they see what they want to see.

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