Though it used to be the stuff of science fiction, these days real-time video conferencing is accessible to anybody with a webcam and high-speed Internet access. Along with keeping up with friends and family anywhere in the world, you can attend online classes, participate in meetings from home and even set up a security system for your house. Webcams are versatile, and basic and built-in models are usually appropriate for most functions.

Personal and Recreational

Many applications and social networks now make use of webcams with features like Google Hangouts and Skype video conferencing. You can now enter video chats as easily as you might enter a text chat room. Most of these applications and features are also free, so if you have a webcam you're good to go. Video chatting is useful for keeping up with faraway friends and family, as it makes things a little more personal than just calling on the phone. With many laptops now having built-in webcams, you no longer need to set a date and prepare for a webcam session.

Work and Business

Webcams open up new opportunities for telecommuting, attending meetings from anywhere or even taking part in interviews for new jobs. Having a webcam paired with a laptop means that you can talk with your co-workers or be reached in almost any location at any time. Holding meetings online or sharing information with your partners in a video conference can save you money you would have spent traveling to meet up in the same place.

Education

Online classes become more personal and interactive with webcams, letting you see your teacher and fellow students. Many tutorials and lessons are also recorded with webcams for later viewing by students. Using video calls between classmates can also make group projects much easier when you're off campus. Webcams can also be used for viewing and attending lessons from anywhere in the event you can't make it to class; attending a live online class enables two-way communication instead of leaving you unable to respond to and interact with your instructor.

Monitoring and Security

If you have children, or if you want to monitor your house while you are away from home, webcams can also work as security cameras. By installing free webcam security programs like Vitamin D, HomeCamera or WebcamXP, you can connect multiple cameras to create a home surveillance system; you can view live streams of your cameras from anywhere, and some programs will even send you emails automatically if the cameras detect anything out of the ordinary.