A webcam is a video camera that feeds or streams its image in real time to or through a computer to a computer network.
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Webcams have been used for augmented reality experiences online.
One such function has the webcam act as a "magic mirror" to allow an online shopper to view a virtual item on themselves.
When sent to a remote location, the video stream may be saved, viewed or on sent there.
Unlike an IP camera (which connects using Ethernet or Wi-Fi), a webcam is generally connected by a USB cable, or similar cable, or built into computer hardware, such as laptops.
Webcam features and performance can vary by program, computer operating system, and also by the computer's processor capabilities.
Video calling support has also been added to several popular instant messaging programs. Software is available to allow PC-connected cameras to watch for movement and sound, a computer e-mailed images of the burglar during the theft of the computer, enabling the owner to give police a clear picture of the burglar's face even after the computer had been stolen.
The Eye Toy for the Play Station 2, Play Station Eye for the Play Station 3, and the Xbox Live Vision camera and Kinect motion sensor for the Xbox 360 and are color digital cameras that have been used as control input devices by some games.
Small webcam-based PC games are available as either standalone executables or inside web browser windows using Adobe Flash.
For a more complete list see Comparison of webcam software.
Special software can use the video stream from a webcam to assist or enhance a user's control of applications and games.
The lenses of the cameras are removed and then these are attached to telescopes to record images, video, still, or both.