Webcams allow people to communicate online via video chat and can be found on laptops, desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. They are commonly used for remote work, videoconferencing, live streaming and content creation. Some also feature a motion detection sensor or night vision capabilities. The first webcam was put up in 1991, and since then, the technology has crept into our homes, offices and public streets. Businesses and even schools sometimes have them installed so employees and students can interact with each other while working from home or on the go. Parents may also use them to give distant relatives visual access to their children and monitor their activities at school or day care.
The best online webcams will have glass lenses that provide incredible image quality with resolutions up to 4K. Most models will include a built-in microphone as well. Some have a wide field of view, allowing users to display the whole room with ease, while others focus on a specific area like a desk or conference table. Typically, low-cost webcams are less flexible and have lower image quality.
Although a front-facing webcam is handy for video chats and recording videos, it’s important to remember that cybercriminals can hack into the camera and spy on you. They can also disable the LED light that usually signals it’s in use to avoid detection. This is why it’s important to cover your webcam when not in use. If you have a wireless webcam, it’s especially crucial to secure your WiFi network to prevent hacking or malware attacks.