Q

Can I share my webcam with multiple programs simultaneously?

There are a few ways you can share your webcam with multiple programs at once, but you have to beware of malware, says video expert Steve Campbell.

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How do I share my webcam with multiple programs simultaneously? I've been having an issue where two different applications try to access the webcam on the computer I'm using at the same time. Currently, only one application is able to access it. Ideally, I want to be able to allow both applications to access the webcam simultaneously. Is this possible? If so, what programs allow me to do this?

The problem is not with the end application, but with the webcam driver software itself. The problem is that the driver software is only allowing the webcam to work with a single application. There are shareware applications that enable webcam sharing by acting as a buffer between the driver and the video application. Any shareware application should be approached with caution, because you could run the risk of downloading an infected or malicious application. It's important to download only from a trusted site if you take this approach. 

Another approach would be to buy another webcam to avoid the malware security risks mentioned above. Low-end webcams can be purchased for under $10. Of course, spending a bit more will likely improve your webcam image quality. Webcams come with application software that can provide additional controls and features, so factor those features in with cost when evaluating a webcam purchase.

There are also applications that allow sharing the camera in your mobile device as a webcam. These may be free or may require a modest fee.

For more information, check out this resource on video conferencing solutions

This was first published in March 2013

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