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The video streams provided by webcams can be used for a number of purposes, each using appropriate software: Most modern webcams are capable of capturing arterial pulse rate by the use of a simple algorithmic trick.

Special software can use the video stream from a webcam to assist or enhance a user's control of applications and games.

Video features, including faces, shapes, models and colors can be observed and tracked to produce a corresponding form of control.

Small webcam-based PC games are available as either standalone executables or inside web browser windows using Adobe Flash.

With very-low-light capability, a few specific models of webcams are very popular to photograph the night sky by astronomers and astro photographers.

In December 2011, Russia announced that 290,000 Webcams would be installed in 90,000 polling stations to monitor the Russian presidential election, 2012.

Webcams can be used to take video clips and still pictures.

For example, the position of a single light source can be tracked and used to emulate a mouse pointer, a head-mounted light would enable hands-free computing and would greatly improve computer accessibility.

This can be applied to games, providing additional control, improved interactivity and immersiveness.

Various software tools in wide use can be employed for this, such as Pic Master (for use with Windows operating systems), Photo Booth (Mac), or Cheese (with Unix systems).

For a more complete list see Comparison of webcam software.

Webcams may be installed at places such as childcare centres, offices, shops and private areas to monitor security and general activity.

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