Today, the webcam is considered a standard piece of computer equipment. It seems hard to remember a time before Zoom meetings for work purposes, or online gaming and content creation taking place directly on the internet. Yet once upon a time, the webcam was an impressive, high-tech piece of hardware not available to everyone. Below, we discuss how this humble piece of equipment continues to transform the online landscape.
Modern Interactive Entertainment UsesAnyone who has played casino games on the internet in the last five years will have noticed the rise of live games. These are well-known titles such as poker and online roulette. The difference is that these games use streaming technology to beam a real croupier from a studio. This person then hands out chips and spins the roulette wheel, which players can then watch in real time. Using the software provided, they can place bets, communicate with them, and have all the interaction of a real casino, using the convenience of an online one.
This innovative form of entertainment has also managed to merge with streaming television in a hybrid casino and game show-style games. Deal or No Deal now has its online casino title. For fans of roulette or other casino titles, it cannot be long before these amalgamations merge with classic table games in live entertainment.
Another area where television and streaming are intersecting due to the humble webcam is livestream shopping. Everyone has seen late-night shopping channels or remembers the glory days of QVC. While they may not be as prevalent, none of them went away. They just evolved.
Livestream shopping first grew in popularity in China. The country still has the highest number of livestream shoppers in the world. Here, people go online and view people using and testing products in real time. If they like it enough, they can then buy the product.
Of course, the most engaging hosts always sell the most products. As the program continues, just like television shopping, contests and low-priced, timed offers may appear. All this is done via a high-quality webcam and microphone.
Quality, Short-Form EntertainmentAmazingly, the first webcam went online in 1994. It was used to monitor the weather at the San Francisco State University Campus. Oddly, it was only turned off in 2019. Yet the invention of the webcam belongs to Cambridge University in the UK. They created the camera to see when the office coffee pot was full and if it was worth traveling to.
This meant that when commercial webcams became available, then installed on mobile devices, the tendency was for homemade, amateur, and unscripted content. As platforms such as YouTube have offered better levels of monetization to creators, this has changed. Videos are now getting more professional, with big studios and creators getting involved. In 2021 the highest-paid YouTuber was Mr. Beast, who earned an estimated $54 million. With high-quality videos that have great lighting, sound, and production values, it may be that the day of the amateur video is over.
In a few decades, webcams have made a sizeable impact across numerous industries, so it will be interesting to see what other areas they influence in the near future.