Webcams are a great way to communicate with people who may not be physically present. They are also often used by businesses to give remote employees and customers visual access to products, services, or training. They are commonly found in homes and businesses, but they can also be seen on public streets and buildings or at zoos and museums.
The term “webcam” refers to any camera that can connect to the internet and provide live video feeds for online use. Typically, they are small cameras that either attach to or sit atop a monitor and connect via USB. The USB connections allow the camera to communicate with a computer running modern web browsers for streaming, recording or other purposes.
Most webcams use a tiny sensor and supporting electronics on a single chip to save space. The sensor captures images, and the supporting electronics send a compressed video stream over the USB connection to a video software application running on a computer or smartphone. The software translates the video into a usable format such as a JPEG or H.264 file, and then the video is displayed in a web browser window.
Many webcams come with a variety of lens options and presets, ranging from simple plastic lenses that are fixed focus to high-quality glass optics. Resolution is important as well, with 720p and 1080p offering adequate clarity for most uses. Higher resolutions, such as 4K, are often overkill and only required by professionals who want to record footage for editing or for chroma key effects. online webcams