Some cameras, such as mobile-phone cameras, use a CMOS sensor with supporting electronics "on die", i.e.
the sensor and the support electronics are built on a single silicon chip to save space and manufacturing costs.
Most if not all cheap webcams come with built-it ASIC to do video compression in real-time.
Support electronics read the image from the sensor and transmit it to the host computer.
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The term "webcam" (a clipped compound) may also be used in its original sense of a video camera connected to the Web continuously for an indefinite time, rather than for a particular session, generally supplying a view for anyone who visits its web page over the Internet.
Some of them, for example, those used as online traffic cameras, are expensive, rugged professional video cameras.
Digital video streams are represented by huge amounts of data, burdening its transmission (from the image sensor, where the data is continuously created) and storage alike.
Webcams have become a source of security and privacy issues, as some built-in webcams can be remotely activated by spyware.
To address this concern, many webcams come with a physical lens cover.
The most popular use of webcams is the establishment of video links, permitting computers to act as videophones or videoconference stations.
Other popular uses include security surveillance, computer vision, video broadcasting, and for recording social videos.