Chrome Beta gets built-in webcam and microphone support

Jul 10, 2012 by Nancy Owano report
Chrome Beta gets built-in webcam and microphone support

(Phys.org) -- A Google company blog announcement this week announced the Google Chrome Beta (of Chrome 21) and all that it brings, namely fresh ways to grant Web applications access to your camera and microphone within the browser without having to deal with plug-ins. Users can forgo having to deal with Adobe Flash and Silverlight for using the webcam in the browser. Google software engineer Robert Toscano explained what the changes bring for the browser, which competes with Internet Explorer and, by some research firm counts, narrowly edges IE in popularity.

The Chrome grants access to users' web cams and microphones without a plugin through the HTML5 getUserMedia API. Google notes that this is the first big step for WebRTC, a new real-time communications standard aiming for high-quality video and audio communication on the web. The WebRTC project enables browsers with capabilities via Javascript APIs.

Reveling in the beta playground featuring the getUserMedia API, creatives have come up with interesting examples of how the new browser enablements add fun and communication. Two sites highlighted by Google as illustrations of the new communication features are Webcam Toy and Magic Xylophone.

Romuald Quantin and Magnus Dahlstrand at Stinkdigital created a Magic Xylophone experience where the user waves hands in front of the camera to elicit notes. The demo shows a person able to play the xylophone using the in his browser. The virtual instrument is overlaid in the user's webcam feed. The blog announcement invites its visitors to install the Chrome Beta or to just watch a video that shows the virtual instrument in action.

Paul Neave’s Webcam Toy is described as a “photo booth” application with special effects to explore, such as snow and fire. Neave used the WebRTC getUserMedia API for HTML5 camera access. WebGL fragment shaders (GLSL) were used for applying realtime special effects to the camera video feed.

This week’s release announcement also highlights improved printing options. The update puts Google Cloud Print printers directly in the print dialog for easier access to printing tasks. What that means is that Chrome users have the options to send their documents to cloud-connected printers, Googe Drive (the place to access all your files), Chrome on a mobile devices or a FedEx office, right in the print dialog box of the beta.

Aside from the getUserMedia API, there is another API with the beta being especially noted by developers. That is the Gamepad API for JavaScript, which helps developers access input from any standard gamepad connected to the user’s machine. This is intended to result in a “richer gameplay experience.” According to Tommy Widenflycht, a , “Gamepad access was made available for NaCl in May, and since its introduction has enabled awesome games like AirMech. We’re excited to see what developers will create in JavaScript."

Explore further: Technology to help people with disabilities to learn and communicate

More information: www.google.com/landing/chrome/beta/

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