I haven’t used a webcam for years but I have never been on to follow the trends. It might seem odd but the greatest reason for me not using my web cams is that they did not fit my computer decor. I also never really look that great on webcams plus I prefer to dress like a slob or not at all when at the computer in the morning or late evening and while I am not embarrassed about my naked or semi-naked self, I do think it is inappropriate to broadcast such an outfit on the Internet.
Well, I digress…computer decor you say? Yes. I am referring to the arrangement of the different computer elements and peripherals. The “feng shui” of computers. My setup consists of a silver 30″ Apple cinema display on a metal articulating arm, a slim black and silver Logitech wireless keyboard, black and silver mouse, Silver Altec Lansing speakers mounted to the top of my desk, and a white and silver HP computer. I needed something that would work with this setup.My old webcam is one of the first Logitech web cams produced. I purchased it in 1999. It needed to be replaced but I never thought to since webcam technology has not improved much over the years. A discussion on why will wait for another blog posting or later in this post if I am so inclined. My other webcam was designed for use with a laptop. It was made by Creative labs and it can attach to a laptop screen. It will not attach to my Apple monitor. I did try attaching it with Velcro but it did not look right.
The camera I chose is the Creative labs Live Cam Optia. It is white with a silver touch around the lens. It has a clear plastic attachment that easily fits atop my monitor. I bought it for the aesthetics but I found that I received much more value than I anticipated once I installed the software.
I mentioned earlier that webcam technology has not changed much over the years. This is true for webcam hardware. Webcam resolution still hovers between 640×480 and 1.3 megapixels. Software, however, has changed quite a bit. Here are some of the features I discovered when I installed the Optia software pack called the Creative Live Cam Center.
The LIve Cam Center has 5 main features: photo capture, video recording, motion detection, remote monitoring, and time lapse video. Photo capture and video recording are pretty much standard features of webcam software so I will not explain them except to say that all the captures are stored using the codecs present on your machine so you can record using XviD or DivX if you want. Motion detection can be set to monitor the area around the camera for movement. The camera can be set a defined threshold for taking certain actions. In the detection setup, you can move around in front of the camera and a threshold meter will chart your movements. This will allow you to configure the sensitivity to eliminate false alerts. If an alert is triggered the software can send you an email with a time stamped photo of the person or thing moving around the camera. Remote monitoring allows you to capture images at set intervals. The images can be dumped to an FTP site or set in an HTML page and sent to a remote location. The time lapse video feature is self-explanatory but I like it because it is not a feature I ever had before.
The software suite also comes with the auto-producer software to aid in editing the videos you take.
As you can guess I am very happy with my purchase. With all these features I might even use it for video conferencing. We will see.