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.
Other popular uses include security surveillance, computer vision, video broadcasting, and for recording social videos.
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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.
Unauthorized access of webcams can present significant privacy issues (see "Privacy" section below).
In December 2011, Russia announced that 290,000 Webcams would be installed in 90,000 polling stations to monitor the Russian presidential election, 2012.
Webcams can be used to take video clips and still pictures.
Various software tools in wide use can be employed for this, such as Pic Master (for use with Windows operating systems), Photo Booth (Mac), or Cheese (with Unix systems).The lenses of the cameras are removed and then these are attached to telescopes to record images, video, still, or both.In newer techniques, videos of very faint objects are taken for a couple of seconds and then all the frames of the video are "stacked" together to obtain a still image of respectable contrast.Researchers claim that this method is accurate to ±5 bpm.Webcams may be installed at places such as childcare centres, offices, shops and private areas to monitor security and general activity.Webcam features and performance can vary by program, computer operating system, and also by the computer's processor capabilities.