Five Alternative Webcam Uses

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Webcams are everywhere these days. They’re on just about every notebook computer, many tablets, phones, and even external ones are available if you happen to be using a setup that doesn’t already include one. For many users, their webcam remains mostly or entirely unused. To some, the idea of being on camera is unappealing while others just don’t have any reason to turn it on at all. Rather than let good technology go to waste, here are five alternative webcam uses:

Home Surveillance
When you’re not at home, who’s keeping an eye out for anything unusual? Catching a burglar on camera is one of the best ways of upping the chances that they will be caught and your stuff returned. Of course, this means that the thief would have to avoid stealing your computer, right? Not exactly.

There are several programs available, and some of them free, that allow you to turn your webcam in to a motion-detecting home surveillance system that uploads video to the web where it’s safe from a thief’s grasp. Yawcam (Windows Only) is one free option. With it, you can tell it to detect motion and either capture video or a still image and upload them to a server via FTP. You can also tell it to send you an email with the image as well. Other features of Yawcam include the ability to play a sound that you configure (such as a warning) or any application including some that lock the thief out to prevent tampering.

Pet Cam
For one reason or another, pet cams are very popular on live streaming sites. You can set up a stream through Ustream or Justin.TV and point the camera areas where your pets play during the day. Having the feed up at your work computer can help you feel like you’re there with them and help you get through the day. If your pets are cute enough, they might even get some fans which can lead to a profitable blog or video series down the road.

Mirror
You’ve got a meeting coming up, but you don’t have time to stop by a bathroom to look in the mirror, what do you do? If you’re at your desk, fire up the webcam and give yourself a look. If you like what you see, take a snapshot and upload it to Facebook later.

Boss Detection System
Does your boss seem to sneak up on you at the workplace? If you have your webcam running and set correctly, you can get the upper hand on that office ninja. This also works on creepy coworkers and nosey classmates. Just make sure you don’t make the monitor window too big or obvious, otherwise it may backfire on you.

Door Monitor
If you’re expecting an important visitor or delivery, you might want to consider setting up a webcam to keep an eye on the front door. This can be achieved by positioning a webcam to look out of a nearby window and activating a program like FaceTime or Skype with the device hosting the webcam. This is an especially good use of an old netbook or computer if you have one gathering dust somewhere.

This can also be achieved with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch with a camera.