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Logitech webcam's new window on the PC

Logitech announced a new webcam and software designed to tap into the increase of webcam usage using instant messaging and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP).

The PC gadget maker's new QuickCam Fusion is designed for that casual conversation between friends or as a Web conference business tool, the company said. Priced at $99.99 in the U.S and available this month in both the U.S. and Europe, the webcam features a wider lens with 78 degrees of visibility and requires Windows 2000 or XP to operate.

Logitech QuickCam Fusion
Credit: Logitech
Logitech QuickCam Fusion

Worldwide sales of PC cameras have grown from 2.9 million units in 1999 to 18 million units in 2004, an average growth of 44 percent per year, according to IDC. Logitech recently announced that it has sold more than 25 million webcams worldwide.

Logitech's latest camera supports video capture as much as 640x480 pixels at 30 frames per second. QuickCam can capture still images at resolutions of up to 1.3 megapixels without software enhancement, or up to 4 megapixels with the included software. This is also Logitech's first webcam certified to support the faster data rates of hi-speed USB, the company said.

Unlike the orb-shaped webcams of the past, Logitech said it decided on a smaller sized low-profile design for QuickCam Fusion that puts the camera closer to eye level. The logo on the webcam also lights up with a soft blue, when it is in use. Ready for a little privacy? There is an internal shade that covers the lens of the polished metallic midnight blue webcam.

In addition to the hardware, Logitech also announced its new Video Effects software to take advantage of internal face tracking software in its QuickCam.

Using technology from California-based Neven Vision, the Logitech Video Effects software maps facial expressions by tracking up to 22 points on the face, around the eyes, eyebrows, and mouth, Logitech said.

The software then allows you to pick your own avatar such as an alien or shark, which then mimics the facial movements and expressions determined by those points.

Microsoft said it worked with Logitech to endorse both the webcam and the video effects software for Windows 2000 and XP. The webcam and software are also supported by AOL and Yahoo Instant messenger.

Logitech has been rolling out a steady stream of products in advance of the Back-to-School buying season and the upcoming holiday. The company most recently .