A webcam is a video camera that feeds or streams its image in real time to or through a computer to a computer network.When "captured" by the computer, the video stream may be saved, viewed or sent on to other networks travelling through systems such as the internet, and e-mailed as an attachment.The term "webcam" (a clipped compound) may also be used in its original sense of a video camera connected to the Web continuously for an indefinite time, rather than for a particular session, generally supplying a view for anyone who visits its web page over the Internet.Some of them, for example, those used as online traffic cameras, are expensive, rugged professional video cameras.With very-low-light capability, a few specific models of webcams are very popular to photograph the night sky by astronomers and astro photographers.Mostly, these are manual-focus cameras and contain an old CCD array instead of comparatively newer CMOS array.Webcam features and performance can vary by program, computer operating system, and also by the computer's processor capabilities.
Special software can use the video stream from a webcam to assist or enhance a user's control of applications and games.
Video features, including faces, shapes, models and colors can be observed and tracked to produce a corresponding form of control.
For example, the position of a single light source can be tracked and used to emulate a mouse pointer, a head-mounted light would enable hands-free computing and would greatly improve computer accessibility.
Improved video quality has helped webcams encroach on traditional video conferencing systems.
New features such as automatic lighting controls, real-time enhancements (retouching, wrinkle smoothing and vertical stretch), automatic face tracking and autofocus, assist users by providing substantial ease-of-use, further increasing the popularity of webcams.