Accessing WebCam with NodeJS


Does anyone have any experience with trying to access a webcam through node? I can't seem to find any prior attempts at this.

To expand a bit - I have a nodeJS server running, and I want to be able to access the webcam on the same box Node is running (so really, I'm using node more as a client implementation). Some things I wanted to do - get an image from the webcam, or, it'd be awesome if I could get a stream to the webcam that I pipe to another server and stream to other clients ;)

Does anyone know how this can be done?


5/30/2012 1:14:21 AM

I don't think there's anything specific to Node.js when it comes to working with webcams, the concepts are generally the same no matter what language or server you're using. The hardware involved and the interfaces to that hardware is what should define your solution.

The simplest case would be to serve individual snapshots that are periodically saved to disk by the webcam's included software, or you can make a system call that invokes a local process or program to save a snapshot on demand. You can then serve a page using Node.js that periodically refreshes the latest snapshot.

Alternatively, you can interface directly with the webcam hardware using a controller tailored to the operating system (DirectShow, Windows Image Acquisition, IKPictureTaker, V4L2, etc.) and create a live video stream using Node.js as the transport mechanism.

If your webcam has a network interface and already offers a streaming server, you might want to look into a reverse proxy solution instead, using nginx or Apache for example. Here is a solution where nginx is being used to proxy a webcam stream formatted by VLC.

Here is a creative solution that captures a video stream by taking individual frames, encoding the image data, and using websockets to push the image data to a canvas element on a client page, using Node.js as the intermediate server.

5/31/2012 5:16:43 PM

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