In a world of increasing remote work and social isolation, online webcams provide an opportunity for students, professionals and families to maintain the bonds of friendship and love, despite long distances. High-quality, reliable webcams can make videoconferencing more natural and allow learners to experience teachers’ body language and visual illustration of materials.
Webcams are either integrated with computers or separate external devices that can be plugged into a computer’s microphone port. They can be mounted in a variety of ways, including on the top of the screen and at eye-line, to offer a more natural perspective for participants. Some feature a wide-angle lens for greater coverage, while others include an adjustable aperture to control how much light catches the camera’s sensor. The frame rate—how many frames a second the camera updates—is also important for image quality; the higher the number, the smoother the video.
Several online webcams are continuously streaming live footage of tourist attractions such as museums and zoos. These are usually made available on public web pages. Others are used to broadcast surveillance from public places such as bridges and streets, and often make the results available on aggregator sites where users can find specific streams by location or other criteria.
Whether used for online meetings, video chat or virtual dating, the best webcams produce sharp, high-resolution images that are clear enough to see facial expressions. They can also capture ambient lighting for an optimal video image, and some have features that automatically focus on the most appropriate face in a conference call or video chat, and avoid distracting background images. online webcams