Some of them, for example, those used as online traffic cameras, are expensive, rugged professional video cameras.making them the lowest-cost form of videotelephony.
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.
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Despite the low cost, the resolution offered at present (2015) is rather impressive, with low-end webcams offering resolutions of 320×240, medium webcams offering 640×480 resolution, and high-end webcams offering 1280×720 (aka 720p) or even 1920×1080 (aka 1080p) resolution.
They have also become a source of security and privacy issues, as some built-in webcams can be remotely activated by spyware.
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).
For a more complete list see Comparison of webcam software.
The most popular use of webcams is the establishment of video links, permitting computers to act as videophones or videoconference stations.