What is a Webcam ?

A web camera (or webcam) is a real time camera whose images can be accessed using the World Wide Web, instant messaging, or a PC video calling application. Generally, a digital camera delivers images to a web server, either continuously or at regular intervals.

A webcam is also the name of a class of video camera devices which connect directly to the PC for the purpose of video calling over the internet.

The first webcam was pointed at the Trojan room coffee pot in the computer science department of Cambridge University. This webcam is now defunct, as it was finally switched off on 22 August 2001. The final image captured by the camera can still be viewed at the webcam's homepage.

Initially intended for personal videoconferencing, it was quickly realised that World Wide Web users enjoyed viewing images from cameras set up by others elsewhere in the world. While webcam refers to the technology generally, the "Web" part is often replaced with the "Category" of images the camera provides.

Today there are thousands of webcam that provide views into homes, offices and other buildings as well as providing panoramic views of cities (Metrocams) and the countryside. Images from satellites are frequently posted on the World Wide Web. Webcams are also used to monitor traffic with TraffiCams, the weather with WeatherCams and even volcanos with VolcanoCams.

As webcam capabilities have been added to instant messaging text chat services such as Yahoo Messenger, Skype, Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and MSN Messenger, one-to-one live video communication over the internet has now reached millions of mainstream PC users worldwide.


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