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webcam3If you’ve never tried webcam live online video conferencing, taking snapshots or otherwise playing with your webcam over the Internet, you’re missing out on another whole dimension of the web. Instant messaging, tweeting and blogging are lots of fun, but when you integrate video into one or more of these activities, they are transformed into much more personal and interactive experiences.

While you might already be familiar with the many apps that are available for your personal webcam that you use at home, there are also many very cool applications that are especially valuable if you travel a lot with a portable USB webcam, or if you use many different computers that have their own built-in webcams. These days, most laptops or desktops have them.

I’ve shared my own obsession with webcam software here at MakeUseOf with my own articles, such as adding VZOChat to your blog VZOChat - How To Videoconference with Your Cameraphone Webcam VZOChat - How To Videoconference with Your Cameraphone Webcam Read More to interact with your visitors. I’m not the only one! Simon also wrote about how to use your webcam to control games Control Any Game With Your Webcam Using CamSpace Control Any Game With Your Webcam Using CamSpace Read More , and Mark mentioned a couple of useful motion sensor webcam applications 2 Cool Motion Sensor Webcam Tools to Snap Those Intruders 2 Cool Motion Sensor Webcam Tools to Snap Those Intruders Read More as well. To add to the MakeUseOf library of useful webcam resources, I’d like to turn now to three free applications that let you use your webcam live and online to take and share photos, broadcast or “tweet” video updates, and even speed date however, whenever and wherever you like.

Take Hilarious Snapshots From Your Browser With Cameroid

MakeUseOf covered Cameroid briefly before, and for good reason. If you like the ability to quickly take a snapshot and modify it in a way that will make people really laugh – you have to check this out. This isn’t an application you have to install on your PC. If you’re on any computer that has a webcam, or you have a portable USB webcam with you, just visit the Cameroid website and you can start taking and playing around with your snapshots.

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Obviously, you can take perfectly normal snapshots of yourself if you like, but the real exciting thing about this browser-based software is how quickly and easily you can insert various special effects. On the right, you’ll find the various types of special photo effects that are available, including adding a filter, distorting the photo (this can be really funny), inserting yourself into scenes, or framing the snapshot. My personal favorite is the hilarious “scenes” section where you can insert your face into any of a number of scenes.

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Here, I decided to go on my first scuba-diving expedition with the rest of the MUO crew, and they thought it would be funny if they unplugged my air supply. Thanks a lot guys. Wait – my even more favorite section is the “filter” section where you can select from a whole list of filters that add a very cool sense of drama or intrigue to your photo.

As you can see here, the aliens were coming to get me and I had no way out. Luckily, I survived the ordeal and lived to tell about it, but the rest of the MUO crew got massacred during the battle – such a shame.  As you can see at the bottom of each snapshot you take, if you have the nerve, you can add the photo to the public Cameroid Gallery for all of the world to see. Otherwise, you can either save it to your hard drive or print it out on paper. No registration and no fees required – all from the convenience of your web browser and any webcam.

Speed Date From the Comfort of Your Home With Randomate

So you’re single, alone, and on a business trip. You’ve just suffered through a full day of conferences and you’re back in your hotel room with nothing to do – and you start lamenting the fact that you have no one in your life who even cares about you. So go down to the lobby where there’s a computer with a webcam, and log into Randomate to set up a free webcam speed dating session. You never know, you just might find the person you’ve always dreamed of.

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How does it work? Basically, you sign up for a session, and when it begins you get to chat with the other people in the session who are also looking for someone. The catch is that it follows the rules of speed-dating, which is you get to talk to the person for only five minutes. Then you move on to the next person, who you talk to for five minutes. Honestly – don’t you know within the first five minutes whether there might be a spark there?

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Sessions are ongoing constantly, but slots are limited – so if you know you want to take part in online speed dating, sign up for a session early and remember to be there when it starts!

Seesmic TV is Twitter with Video

Another very cool online tool that you can use from anywhere and with any webcam is Seesmic TV.  David reviewed Seesmic Desktop How to Use Twitter with Multiple Accounts with Seesmic Desktop How to Use Twitter with Multiple Accounts with Seesmic Desktop Read More not very long ago, so did Jason Seesmic - Like Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku Or Pownce But With Video Seesmic - Like Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku Or Pownce But With Video Read More , and made mention of Seesmic Web as well – both tools that you can use to better interface directly with Twitter.

However, Seesmic TV, the app which Mark briefly mentioned being integrated with Twhirl Send Tweets & Make Video With The New & Improved Twhirl Send Tweets & Make Video With The New & Improved Twhirl Read More , is an interesting community where you can issue video Twitter-like messages in video format, and reply to other folks video updates just like you do on Twitter. On Seesmic TV, this amounts to an interesting collection of actual discussions with actual faces and actual voices…just like actual live. It really makes you feel like you’re right there having a conversation with the person face-to-face.

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The interface where you record your message is just as simple as in Twitter. You simply title your video clip, add a description and post to the community or send it privately to the inbox of another Seesmic user. You can do this from any computer anywhere in the world as long as it has an internet connection and a webcam (or you bring your own USB webcam with you).

The beauty of all three of these applications is that they let you interface with Internet communities in ways that simply aren’t possible in a purely text or even an audio medium. Using facial expressions and tone of voice, you can convey your messages to the world much more clearly and effectively.

Have you taken part in any webcam-based community? Would you ever consider it, and if not, what holds you back? Share your opinions and insight in the comment section below.

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