How Does a Webcam Work?

by Tiesha Whatley

With the launch of YouTube, video chats and other video sites, the popularity of webcams are shooting through the roof. Not all videos from webcams are goofy and silly things that we enjoy so much. There are some that are instructional, involving serious issues or record historical events. This is why many computer sales departments and manufacturers are now including webcams with new computers as an extra selling point.

The technology behind using a webcam is very simple. You basically needs three things in order for it to work; a webcam, software to record and capture video and a medium to broadcast the recorded images and video.

It is a misconception that using a webcam is just to record yourself doing something beneficial or entertaining. A webcam can also be used a security surveillance system. For instance, if you want to see what your children or employees are doing while you are away, just hook up a webcam and watch it from a remote location.

Webcams are also a form of face to face communication between people from different parts of the world. The military is even using the technology to allow troops to communicate with their families after they have been deployed to other countries. Many college kids like to use webcams to communicate with their friends who are away at schools in different states. It is a faster communication than writing letters and more enjoyable than emails.

The first thing that needs to be done is the buying and setting up of the webcam. Some webcams are very simple to connect to your computer; all you have to do is connect it to the USB port on the computer. Some webcams are much more complex. Follow the directions that come with the packaging.

There is software that comes with the webcam that allows you to captures the images and videos. Depending on what you need the webcam for, the proper settings need to be in place. The frame rate should depict if you want streaming video or still images. For streaming video, the frame rate needs to be set very high.

Once the camera and software is installed, you now need a way to broadcast the images and videos. Some utilize their own web server or use one of the free resources available. After you have decided on what server to use, set up an account and copy down the server address the FTP information to include it in the webcam settings. Your computer is now able to capture video and photos then upload it to a web server. Your software will continue to capture and upload the images while you have it in capture or record mode.

For recording streaming video, you will need a constant connection to the internet. This way you will be sure to receive up-to-date images captured from your webcam. A reliable and fast connection is also needed on both computers when communicating between two webcams.

About the Author

Tiesha Whatley has been writing for over 10 years. She has been published in "Marie Claire," "Ebony" and "Modern Bride" magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Science in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and has been working in the wedding planning industry for over 13 years.

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