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how to use your webcamAre you the kind of person that covers their webcam with a sticker, so nobody can spy on them?

Almost every device now is equipped with at least one camera. They make virtual meetings with family and friends a little more personal. Rather than staring at a static profile image and hearing a distant voice, you can visually interact with the other person, read facial expressions, and thus better understand how the human on the other end feels. This subtle information adds a lot of depth to conversations.

But webcams can do a lot more than enhance virtual conversations. Few of us use their full potential for fun, convenience, and safety.

Play Interactive Games

The idea of tracking movements with a camera for interactive games was first realized by Sony, when they introduced the EyeToy for the PlayStation 2. Later, Microsoft released Kinect for Xbox. Meanwhile, interactive games had reached regular webcams.

WebCam Mania is one of those interactive webcam games MUO Games - Great Webcam Gaming With Webcam Mania MUO Games - Great Webcam Gaming With Webcam Mania Read More . It comes with various game packs and is available for all major versions of Windows.

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Another program that isn’t a game, but a tool to let you control any of your games with your webcam Control Any Game With Your Webcam Using CamSpace Control Any Game With Your Webcam Using CamSpace Read More , is CamSpace. While it used to run from any browser, it now requires a desktop client named Cody, which is only available for Windows. CamSpace isn’t free anymore, but comes with a $8.95 price tag.

While there isn’t a huge selection of games and tools that employ the webcam, it’s good to know that you don’t necessarily need a gaming console to have some truly interactive gaming fun.

Control Software

Flutter took the idea of interacting with the webcam to a whole different level. The tool lets you control software with hand gestures Flutter Is Like Kinect For Your Computer's Webcam [Mac] Flutter Is Like Kinect For Your Computer's Webcam [Mac] Kinect may not be the best way to play games on an Xbox 360, in spite of the fact that some games for the platform are pretty good. However, one place Kinect does shine is... Read More . It’s available for Mac and Windows and presently supports Spotify, iTunes, QuickTime, Windows Media Player, Winamp, VLC, PowerPoint, and Keynote. Additionally, you can control the player functions of YouTube, Pandora, Grooveshark, and Netflix in Chrome.

how to use your webcam

Create Animated GIFs GIF - The Final Word On How To Pronounce It GIF - The Final Word On How To Pronounce It With the resurgence of the Graphics Interchange Format in its animated incarnation, the HOT debate about how to pronounce that gem of an acronym has also come to the front again. There are two fighters... Read More & Avatars

Looking for an original avatar? Turn webcam snapshots into animated GIFs The Most Fun You'll Have All Day: Create Animated GIFs From Webcam Images In Seconds The Most Fun You'll Have All Day: Create Animated GIFs From Webcam Images In Seconds I have a confession to make. I’ve never made an animated GIF in my life until today. Not only did I never make one, I also never found them very appealing, unless the subject matter... Read More , for example with PsykoGif. Like most of these tools, it runs from your browser and uses Flash. It has an intuitive interface, is limited to six frames, and you can delete and re-take frames as often as you like.

A similar tool to record an avatar using your webcam is WebCam Avatar. You can take a series of as many frames as you like. They are combined into one animated GIF, which you can edit as you preview it. You can delete, add, and move frames, change the frame intervals, photo dimensions, and add effects.

Both tools are free, don’t require registration, and offer a direct download of your animated GIF.

how to use your web camera

Log Into Your Computer With Face Recognition

With KeyLemon you won’t ever have to type in your Windows password again. Instead, just hold your face in front of the camera to log into your account. Should you have such a bad day that not even KeyLemon will recognize your face, you can always fall resort to your password.

The software supports multiple user accounts, is available for Windows XP through Windows 8, Mac 10.6 to 10.8, and comes in a Basic (free), Bronze, and Gold version with varying features. Apart from logging in with face recognition, the free version also includes the LemonDay plugin that lets you track your face evolution over time.

how to use your web camera

We recently mentioned KeyLemon in an article on fun tools to get more out of your webcam 3 Fun Tools to Get More Out of Your Webcam 3 Fun Tools to Get More Out of Your Webcam To be honest, I never understood the big fuss over webcams and video chatting. Sure, it’s nice to chat face to face every once in a while, especially when you haven’t seen your significant other... Read More .

Use Your Webcam For Surveillance

Maybe the most obvious thing you can do with a webcam is use it for surveillance or generally watching things remotely. We have covered this subject extensively on MakeUseOf. James wrote a very detailed piece on how to use your webcam for home surveillance Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools I live in England, the country with the highest number of CCTVs than anywhere else in the world - about 1 camera to every 30 people, it’s estimated. Obviously, that’s not enough (yes, that is... Read More , including a list of tools for different platforms and needs.

how to use your web camera

While James didn’t approve of it, Matt thought iSpy was a great surveillance tool iSpy Turns Your Computer Webcam Into Surveillance Equipment [Windows] iSpy Turns Your Computer Webcam Into Surveillance Equipment [Windows] Read More , suitable even in a professional environment. It records video and audio, supports motion detection, and can upload videos to YouTube.

web camera uses

Angela showed you how to build your own baby monitor How To Build Your Own Baby Monitor How To Build Your Own Baby Monitor If you're a recent parent, you've probably considered getting some sort of baby monitor. You possibly considered the utility of a video monitor and then you may or may not have balked at the exorbitant... Read More using Skype and a spare webcam with computer, ideally an old laptop.

how to use your webcam

Bonus Tip: Use Your Smartphone Camera As A Webcam

In case you do not have a webcam on your computer but own a smartphone with a camera, try to turn the phone’s camera into an external webcam for your PC. You can use any Android device as PC webcam How To Use An Android Device As A PC Webcam How To Use An Android Device As A PC Webcam If you need to make a few Skype calls or want to start a Hangout on Google Plus, but don't have the necessary equipment at hand, don't run off to the hardware store just yet!... Read More with a tool called SmartCam. Likewise, you can turn your iPhone into a webcam Use Your iPhone as a Webcam: Here's How [iOS] Use Your iPhone as a Webcam: Here's How [iOS] If you're wanting to use your iPhone as a remote webcam, Apple's FaceTime is probably the best option, but there are a few other free and inexpensive apps that are useful and offer a few... Read More for your computer.

Conclusion

Your webcam can do a lot more than visually transport your emotions in a video chat. It’s a game engine, toy, and security device, all in one. Are you using your webcam to its full potential? What other uses have you found for it?

This article was inspired by a question posted on MakeUseOf Answers.

  1. dzjorrit
    October 1, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    For using your body as a joystick in your games you can use GiMeSpace CamControl Gamer's edition. Really fun!

  2. Brandon R
    July 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    wow I never even thought about these stuff great article once again Tina. Thanks for supplying yet another great article.

  3. alikhan2100
    June 28, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I have only used my webcam for skype video talk, but now i thing i would be using it for many more stuff especially as a face recognition software to log in to windows. Glad i came across this article. (:

  4. Rahul N
    June 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Camplay is windows only :(
    KeyLemon is still uncooked on Mountain Lion :(
    Flutter is AWESOME :D

  5. Will
    June 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    You could also strip the webcam off its casing and use it to create a digital telescope-- It can create some awesome timelapses (not as cool as the Timescapes ones, but you did it yourself!)

    Also a tip, use an old photo roll plastic container for an "adaptor" between the webcam optics and the telescope. Be sure to wrap all with black tape so light doesn't bleed into the images

  6. Stephanie Staker
    June 16, 2013 at 7:22 am

    I almost didn't read this and even so, didn't expect the info on using a smartphone as a webcam. That is handy to know!

  7. Samer Yousef
    June 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    This is first time know something useful because i new in this site
    but this topic is Very Amazing for me

    • Tina Sieber
      June 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Samer! Glad you found something you can make use of and hope to see you back! :)

  8. dragonmouth
    June 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    If the you can use the web cam to spy on others, creeps (or the government) can use it to spy on you.

  9. thu ya
    June 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I love WebCam Mania. Thanks Tina.

    • Tina Sieber
      June 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      It's awesome, isn't it? Couldn't believe I had not heard of it until writing this article, although we (MakeUseOf) had written about it before.

  10. Steve Frey
    June 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    You did it again guys. A whole new set of options and uses for equipment I have had for quite awhile but grown tired of and tunnel vision view of what it's usefulness is. Now I have some new tricks for an old dog. Thanks for the refresher/reminder

    • Tina Sieber
      June 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Very welcome Steve! If you end up using on of the suggestions, please let us know which one and how or whether you discovered something else you could do with your webcam/s!

  11. Inderpal Shingari
    June 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Saved.

  12. Lim3Fru1t
    June 14, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I don't really use a webcam. But this looks interesting!

  13. Rudi Niemand
    June 14, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Some webcams (mostly older ones, i.e.: from 8 to 10 years ago) are easily hackable into night vision cameras by removing the infra red filter from the lens - older cameras had a separate glass filter in front of the lens rather than it being integrated. With the help of an infra red LED torch (or just a TV remote) you can set up surveillance in a dark space.

    Some webcams with adjustable focus were actually more adjustable than first though - if you take the casing off the adjustment can be wound right back, thus creating a (though, low res) super macro lens. I say super, because some will go down to microscopic focus, showing deep grazes and scratches on what appears to be shiny silverware.

    • Tina Sieber
      June 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Great hacks, thanks for sharing, Rudi!

  14. lanete_08
    June 14, 2013 at 2:50 am

    wew this is so coool. :DDD specially the face detection. XD

  15. Onaje Asheber
    June 14, 2013 at 2:30 am

    Cool! i will try out some of the things, for sure.

  16. Lee
    June 14, 2013 at 1:50 am

    You can even use it to make your monitor a sort-of touchscreen (if you are OK with modifying your webcam). Basically, you can make it only see infrared light (by removing the filter inside) and then make an IR pen and use some software to track the IR light.
    It's basically the same concept as the Wiimote touchscreen thing but using a webcam instead.

  17. null
    June 14, 2013 at 12:57 am

    I only use mine for... video phone calls on Skype to... family... yeah... ^^

    • macwitty
      June 14, 2013 at 6:53 am

      I use mine for ... wait, nothing

      • Mauricio Aviles
        June 17, 2013 at 3:43 pm

        same here i didn't know you could do this with a webcam

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