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

In newer techniques, videos of very faint objects are taken for a couple of seconds and then all the frames of the video are "stacked" together to obtain a still image of respectable contrast.

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.

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.

They have also become a source of security and privacy issues, as some built-in webcams can be remotely activated by spyware.

The most popular use of webcams is the establishment of video links, permitting computers to act as videophones or videoconference stations.

Video features, including faces, shapes, models and colors can be observed and tracked to produce a corresponding form of control.

For example, the position of a single light source can be tracked and used to emulate a mouse pointer, a head-mounted light would enable hands-free computing and would greatly improve computer accessibility.

Webcams have been used for augmented reality experiences online.

One such function has the webcam act as a "magic mirror" to allow an online shopper to view a virtual item on themselves.

This can be applied to games, providing additional control, improved interactivity and immersiveness.