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Using a Smartphone as a Webcam

By Tor de Vries

If you need an extra webcam, particularly a wireless webcam that can be positioned almost anywhere, you may be able to turn your smartphone into a wireless webcam.

I use a Mac laptop and an Android smartphone. Using free apps from Iriun (http://iriun.com) on both devices, and connecting both devices to the same WiFi network, I am able to use the smartphone as a wireless webcam during Panopto recordings and Zoom sessions. I have a small smartphone tripod for it, but it’s also handy if I want to move the “webcam” around to focus on something. In theory, it supports up to 4K HD video, though I personally have not tested that.

Some caveats:

  • Different smartphones or computer operating systems may have their own limits.
  • In my tests, if you set the phone app to use the front camera (e.g. the selfie camera) on your phone, it broadcasts in a mirror image.
  • Depending on your WiFi’s security settings, your phone might not be able to connect to your computer.
  • While broadcasting live video/audio, your smartphone battery will drain very quickly. Keep it plugged in as much as possible.

If you need a new or secondary webcam, or one you can wirelessly move around, and you have a smartphone, it’s worth trying this out.