The term "webcam" (a clipped compound) may also be used in its original sense of a video camera connected to the Web continuously for an indefinite time, rather than for a particular session, generally supplying a view for anyone who visits its web page over the Internet.Some of them, for example, those used as online traffic cameras, are expensive, rugged professional video cameras.

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.

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.

Researchers claim that this method is accurate to ±5 bpm.

Webcams may be installed at places such as childcare centres, offices, shops and private areas to monitor security and general activity.

making them the lowest-cost form of videotelephony.

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.

The Eye Toy for the Play Station 2, Play Station Eye for the Play Station 3, and the Xbox Live Vision camera and Kinect motion sensor for the Xbox 360 and are color digital cameras that have been used as control input devices by some games.

Small webcam-based PC games are available as either standalone executables or inside web browser windows using Adobe Flash.

The lenses of the cameras are removed and then these are attached to telescopes to record images, video, still, or both.