Did you know there are hidden uses lurking behind many of the gadgets in your home? Your webcam especially, the thing you rarely use, is one of the most under-utilized. Selfies and Skyping with friends and family are the main uses of the webcam, but there are several more interesting uses for this so-called “straightforward” device.
From homeowners looking for a method to set up home surveillance to using face recognition to login to Windows, the uses of a webcam can go above and beyond it’s intended use.
8 Awesome Uses for Your Webcam.
Home Monitoring System
The basic webcam, which typically comes with a built-in motion-detection software, makes a great tool for home surveillance. You can simply keep your computer on with your webcam software on, and activate the motion detection setting (it will snap an image when motion is detected).
If your webcam does not have motion detection software built-in, there is free software available. One of the best out there is Yawcam, a remote Windows-only software that detects a motion and will either record that motion with video or a still image, whichever you specify. iSpy is another software to consider. It too is free and will even upload your videos directly to YouTube.
For this home surveillance method to be successful, you will need to put your computer in a place where the webcam can record the most square footage. Also, one more cool thing the webcam can do is record infrared light, the light humans cannot see, which makes it be superb for nighttime monitoring.
Live streaming big life events – birthday parties, sports meets, graduations, weddings, even dinner parties that your friends three states away couldn’t make it to – has become all the rage. With so many live streaming apps that work seamlessly and faster than ever before, live streaming is now finally something that’s natural, and not choppy.
All you need is a webcam and to sign-up at one of the free services that offer live stream video channels. One of the best is Ustream.tv. After signing up, you get your own video channel and URL that you can share with friends and family.
Ustream allows thousands of viewers per channel too so you never have to worry about the number of people allowed to watch your stream. Livestream.com is another free site too and offers much of the same as Ustream.
Homemade Baby Camera
For parents looking to save money wherever they can, one of the best ways to save a significant chunk of cash is by building your own baby monitor using an old laptop, a webcam and Skype. If you have an old laptop lying around and a new baby, you can’t get any better than this.
To set it up, first create a Skype account for your baby, add yourself as a contact, and keep the rest of the account buttoned down as private. When you lay your baby down, just place the computer near the baby and position the webcam so it’s on them and start Skype. Bam – instant baby monitor wherever you go.
A simple yet incredibly useful way to use your webcam in a pinch is using it as a mirror. If you’re stuck at your desk and don’t have access to an actual mirror, this is the next best thing. So the next time you need to check your teeth for pepper or whatever else, try using your webcam. You’ll be surprised at how handy it can be for checking up on physical appearances.
If you’re in love with your pets possibly more than you should be, or if one of them is sickly and you want to make sure they’re ok when you’re not there, you can use your webcam to monitor your pets.
Setting it up is much the same as live streaming described above. Download Yawcam or something similar, and set up your computer in an area where it can monitor for your pets closely.
Control Video Games
One of the more exciting uses to come around for the webcam is the last few years is interactive game controlling. That’s right, you can use your webcam as a motion detector to control games, and by using the software CamSpace. It also lets you use literally anything as the game controller.
This can be great for people who don’t like using average controllers when playing games. The software costs $8.95 and requires the download of Cody, a desktop client that’s only available on Windows.
Also, you can get a pack of games made specifically to use on a webcam, including Dodgeball and human Pong. It’s called WebCam Mania and is available here: http://mika.tanninen.net/Ohjelmat_Webcam_en.shtml
If you love sci-fi, then you’ll love being able to use your webcam for facial recognition. One of the most popular uses of this is for logging into Windows, and the go-to software to make this happen is KeyLemon, a free Windows-based software that uses your face as your password. This can be quite handy if you have to remember multiple passwords.
Control Software with Hand Gestures
Along the same vein as using CamSpace to control video games with your webcam, you can use Flutter to use your webcam to control media-based software. Flutter lets you control software using hand gestures. If you detest using a mouse, this is the ultimate solution.
The software it supports is Spotify, iTunes, QuickTime, Windows Media Player, Winamp, VLC, PowerPoint, and Keynote. You can also use Flutter to control functions in YouTube, Pandora, Grooveshark and Netflix in Chrome.
The moral of the story – a webcam can do so much more than it was originally intended for. All it takes is some thinking outside of the box, a simple software title and the webcam can become a brand new gadget you can’t get enough of.
For a bonus tip on using your webcam creatively for creating avatars, check out our post – 10+ Great Websites for Creating Animated GIF Images Online for Free