Webcam Photo App

November 30, 2011


Recently I though, why not use the built-in webcam on my laptop as a photo camera? That is a very basic functionality but amazingly it is not built in to Windows 7 (I remember Windows XP had a 'wizard' to do this, but 7 seems to require the use of custom software). Furthermore, since this is such a basic function and it is all I needed to do, I decided to write my own program to only capture an image from the webcam and nothing else. I dislike bloatware and this is definitely not bloatware, so don't be afraid to try it. In fact, it doesn't even have to be installed, just unzip and run. Like back in the good old days, no?

This program is a bit large for what it accomplishes, but this is because it uses the openframeworks libraries (it was made in C++) and they take up some space. The program does not update itself automatically and wipe out your data, log keystrokes, run a background service hogging the processor, or do anything other than capturing an image from the webcam. I put that in because I become quite irate when programs do things behind my back. In fact I become very irate because my main principle is that a computer is not a TV - I am in control of the programs that are running, and not the other way around. For instance, one program installed a constantly-running service to keep it always updated. Not that there are ever any updates, but checking a few times every hour couldn't possibly be a bad thing, right? Well, that service does not see the light of day anymore (or of the monitor screen, as it may be), and one more CPU cycle freed for productive uses.


Download zip folder here. The instructions for use are shown when the program is run, and the folder does have to be extracted for it to run. The captured photos are saved in the program's running directory in the PNG format, and named according to a random number generator. Yes, there shall be collisions (if you are not careful) but I am too lazy to come up with another method.


Here is a photo of a capacitor-charging circuit from a disposable camera, taken with this program. Discharging the capacitor(s) is left as an exercise for the reader.