Technology

It was born to watch over a coffee maker and today it is the eye that sees everything: the webcam turns 31

Webcam is used to record video, make or broadcast video calls streaming, This tiny device uses a very basic technology, as it is made up of a lens, an image sensor, and the necessary circuitry. Today, November 22, the webcam celebrates its anniversaryHowever its history is very unusual as coffee was the main ingredient to drive its creation.

Quentin Stafford-Fraser (computer engineer at the University of Cambridge) was tired of going to the coffee pot in the University’s ‘Trojan Room’ to find that there was no drink left inside. Tired of repeating the same actions every day, In 1991 he decided to connect a camera to the computer screen to remotely control the coffee level.

The famous ‘Trojan Room Coffee Pot’ was eyed A black and white Philips camera with 129 x 129 pixel resolutionIn addition, the XCoffee program used the X Windows protocol to output images at one frame per second.

In 1993, Dan Gordon and Martin Johnson (researchers) updated the webcam software so that it Respond to requests via a graphical browser called Mosaic, bearing in mind that webcams are ‘older’ than the famous ‘world wide web’. At the time when the web became a more widespread technology offering better graphic possibilities, said webcam was connected to the internet.

Images of the coffee pot were available to all the students in the lab, and in no time, millions of people were tuning in from around the world to view it. script And the first version of the code.

after spending eight years in streaming, Last image of the coffee maker aired in 2001when one of the university scientists pushed the button off Of the machine But what happened to the famous coffee pot? German magazine Der Spiegel bought this product on eBay for 3,850 euros (approx), and since 2015, is on permanent loan at the German Museum of Technology (Berlin),



current usage

Today, webcams have come a long way in terms of built-in technology and software, but beyond recording video, these devices can be used in the following ways:

  • surveillance cameras: Live images can be accessed through a browser or application, in addition, many of them have built-in sensors to detect possible movements.
  • facial recognition: There is a possibility that they are an alternative security method, ie another way to log in without using a password.
  • qr code reader,
  • Take photos and video calls: Although the quality is not very good, it is true that they are used to take pictures or make video calls.

Are there privacy risks with webcams?

With this in mind, spying via webcam is not a myth Cyber ​​criminals can access audio and video of a home or business, There is no reason to leave said device active, therefore, from 20Bits we want to give you some tips to deactivate the webcam when it is not being used.

  • cover the lens: Stickers are a useful option to protect users’ privacy.
  • unplug it: If the webcam is connected to the computer via a USB connector, it is recommended to disconnect the cable.
  • disable it in the operating system: Those interested can deactivate it from ‘Settings’ Tools → ‘Privacy’.
  • Don’t rely on led activity It lights up when in use, so cyber criminals can spy on users without activating the light.

In case you didn’t know, webcam attacks require some kind of setup malware on the computer, especially from Trojan horses, but it is necessary to download and run the default protection in order to improve the security of the PC.


There are many apps to use mobile as webcam.

potential hazards

All electronic devices have a built-in camera, and when we buy a mobile, we usually pay attention to how many pixels it offers to take good pictures. But leaving this topic aside, users face a series of daily risks:

  • danger of becoming a joke Which are usually recorded and shared on the Internet.
  • it can be simplified Re-transmission of risky behaviors,
  • there is a risk of access harmful content Which causes mental damage.
  • cyber criminals can capture the image of the victim To use it without your consent.
  • there is a risk of Disclosure of Personal Data,
  • scammers can Accused of blackmailing users Emotional and sexual to steal money.

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