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.
Webcam features and performance can vary by program, computer operating system, and also by the computer's processor capabilities.
Video calling support has also been added to several popular instant messaging programs. Software is available to allow PC-connected cameras to watch for movement and sound, a computer e-mailed images of the burglar during the theft of the computer, enabling the owner to give police a clear picture of the burglar's face even after the computer had been stolen.
Researchers claim that this method is accurate to ±5 bpm.
Unlike an IP camera (which connects using Ethernet or Wi-Fi), a webcam is generally connected by a USB cable, or similar cable, or built into computer hardware, such as laptops.
The Webcam Social Shopper is one example of software that utilizes the webcam in this manner.
Webcam can be added to instant messaging, text chat services such as AOL Instant Messenger, and Vo IP services such as Skype, one-to-one live video communication over the Internet has now reached millions of mainstream PC users worldwide.
Improved video quality has helped webcams encroach on traditional video conferencing systems.
New features such as automatic lighting controls, real-time enhancements (retouching, wrinkle smoothing and vertical stretch), automatic face tracking and autofocus, assist users by providing substantial ease-of-use, further increasing the popularity of webcams.