Monthly Archives: March 2013

Lights, Camera, Action!

So You Want to Access Your Webcam from Javascript?

Web Real-Time Communications or WebRTC is an exciting new HTML5 technology that not only gives JavaScript the ability to do peer-to-peer (P2P) audio/video conferencing and P2P data communications between browsers, it also lets you have programmatic access to attached cameras and microphones. Prior to WebRTC you had to rely on a browser plugin such as Adobe Flash to be able to do similar things. But recently there has been a big push to add these capabilites as intrinsic features to web browsers with Google really leading the charge and through standardization efforts by the W3C WebRTC working group. It is a brave new world in that only some browsers have added WebRTC support and even those that do can have subtle (and some not so subtle) differences in both interface and implementation. But more and more you’re seeing real applications appearing that are using WebRTC in very cool and interesting ways. One great example of WebRTC in action is a PhotoBooth-like app called WebCam Toy. This application should give you a sense of the possibilites that WebRTC is opening up.

In the rest of this article, I’m going to walk you through the minimum code needed to get your webcam to display video in your browser. The latest versions of Chrome or Firefox are recommended for running the code included in this article and for experimenting with WebRTC. If you already have one of these browsers you can try out my example.

So lets get started…

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