Wednesday, December 17, 2008

High level basics about webcams

With this post am beginning transition to video. Later expect a series on quotes by mentors because our mentors and the values and ethics they instilled in us are important. 

Webcams aka Web cameras are a common sight today, so much so that you will even see them integrated into many mainstream laptops and LCD monitors. There are USB, network, and WiFi cameras. In fact as a security option you may want to consider using a webcam with motion detection software to monitor your house or apartment while you are away. Many manufacturers now (depending on the model) offer motion detection that is when an object moves in front of the camera for a certain length of time a trigger is set off and the camera starts to record what happens for a predetermined length of time. In addition some software even offers the option of notifying you of the alarm and in some cases even emailing you the video. 

A webcam in fact all cameras including live action take a single picture (frame) at a time. The only difference between a still picture and a live streaming video is the frequency at which the pictures are taken. At 15 fps the image is jerky but it appears moving, 20 more so, 30 fps is considered low end live. To stream live video you will need a high speed internet connection like cable or DSL internet. 

Ok, let me break this down as simply as I can – the webcam send an image to the computer which is associated with the webcam software program. The program then converts the image data to a format like jpeg (Joint Photographic Experts Group – so named for the group that developed the compression) then using a web server and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to send to web (think your chat programs). Using other programs you can even stream the image to your website. 

Trivia – Did you know some of the never generations of webcams even incorporate night vision? Example

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