Seven (7) best uses available today for WEB CAMS
Webcams these days are surplus and they don’t even cost high enough to be away from them. You can find webcams with different shapes, models, colors and of Megapixels.
We can easily opt for a webcam for an economical price and start using them for Video chat and stuffs like that (mostly the modern laptops of these days have inbuilt webcams). But, I would also like to bring to you some of the best options that you can make use of the old or new webcam lying at your home or office attached to your computer or laptop.
These webcams with a little touch of programs and apps can make it more worth than that it was used some time ago. Do try out some of these and I am sure you will have fun. And do not forget to let me know how these have helped you in having fun, in the comment column below.
1. Home security system
You can find plenty of free programs you can use to turn a webcam into a remote security system. Simply install Yawcam (Windows only) from www.yawcam.com, which is free, or Vitamin D (Windows and MAC) from www. vitamindinc.com ($49). Once installed, you can configure them to stream live video and monitor the feed remotely. The software can also be set to alert you or start recording when motion is detected in the frame of view. This is good because you obviously cannot monitor the feed from the camera all the time. For general surveillance, you can set up the software to take snapshots at set intervals and upload them to a remote FTP server. For Linux users, Motion (www.lavrsen.dk) does the same thing.
2. Optical character recognition
OCR or optical character recognition using a webcam is a bit tricky as the image quality of most of these devices is average. However, in a pinch, your webcam can double as an OCR reader. You can take an image with the webcam and then use software like Microsoft Document Imaging, Google Docs and Abbyy FineReader Online to convert images to text. You can also try Evernote (free from www.evernote.com), which is recommended since it reads the image from the webcam and converts it into searchable text in real time. You can use it to save notes, book pages, reports and business cards. The accuracy of converted text is 70-90% depending on the image quality and software used for conversion.
3. Bar code reader
Reading bar codes and QR codes is easy with a smartphone and a free app. However, you can do the same on a PC with a webcam (built-in or external, though the latter may be better). Download and install bcWebCam (free from www. bcwebcam.de) and it will automatically connect to your webcam to show the feed. Just place the bar code or QR code in front of the webcam, and the software will take a few seconds to recognise the embedded content before showing you the text/link it contains. Mac users, who need similar functionality, can use Evobarcode (15-day trial & $30 after that) from www.evological.com or QuickMark (Rs 220) from the Mac App store.
Webcam can literally throw you into the action while playing a game. At www.newgrounds.com, you will find a collection of short, quick online games and Adobe Flash applets that use webcam. Move to the games section and search for webcam games sub-section on the website. You will need to allow Flash Player to access your webcam when it prompts you, and this has to be done for each game. There are plenty of games on the site and each has a different theme. The favorites are the 3D Target Shooting (the game uses the webcam to detect your location and displays a 3D effect relative to your position), Night of the Ninja (fend off angry ninjas by hitting them), Bunny Zap (zap bunnies before they hit the ground) and Dress Up Yourself (add spectacles, thought/speech bubbles, facial hair, accessories to your face).
5. Time lapse videos
Time lapse is a photography technique, wherein multiple photographs taken at the same location over a period of time are stitched together to form a video. The resulting effect is of time passing by very quickly and, hence, the name. Free software Tilaphos (http://sourceforge.net/ projects/tilaphos) or Webcam TimerShot (available on http://download.cnet. com) can do this without inundating you with too many technical details. An external webcam is recommended because it is easier to keep it still and is much easier to place it at a location from where a wider frame is possible. A larger coverage helps capture more movements, which, in turn, can make the video look good. It’s important that the laptop (or webcam) is kept perfectly still and gets constant power. Then it’s just a matter of setting the time interval and recording the time lapse.
6. Log in via face recognition
Some computers may have this as an in-built feature, but if you have a PC running Windows and a webcam, you can log in via face recognition easily. Go to www.luxand.com/blink or http://bananascreen.en.softonic.com and download the free software. In the initial configuration, register your face with the software and set an auto lock for Windows. Once active, the software will recognize your face and log you in to Windows without the need for a password. Since the software recognizes certain points on your face, it doesn’t matter if you have a different hairstyle or if you’re wearing spectacles. There is an easy way to break in though; if someone holds up your photo, the software may log in because it can’t recognize 2D or 3D shapes.
7. Photos with funny effects
If you go to www.cameroid.com, you can use any webcam to take funny photos, with various filters, distortion effects, scenes or frames. You don’t need to install anything or sign up— just give the site permission to access your webcam through Adobe Flash, when prompted. Once you take a photo, you can either save it to the Cameroid public gallery or download the JPG file to your computer. You can also try out similar effects at www.seenly. com. You can also get software to create real time effects while you video chat using Skype or Google Talk. Videoskin.net offers some freeware, while www.webcammax.com and www.shiningmorning.com offer trial versions of their software with thousands of effects.
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He lives in Bangalore, India & works for a service industry.
He is an aspirant. He likes blogging, reading, photography & learning new stuffs.
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