With the latest stable release of Chrome, web applications can access the built-in camera and microphone of your internet-bowsing device, i.e. desktop PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet.
As we reported when the beta became available last month, Chrome 21 includes the getUserMedia API which means you to grant web apps access to your camera and microphone right within the browser, without a plug-in.
This is an obvious boost for web conferencing and video chat and is the first step towards the new real-time communications standard, WebRTC, for high-quality video and audio communication on the web.
One incentive to upgrade to Chrome 21 is its Web Lab. In one of the five WebGL experiments on offer, Sketchbots, Chrome uses getUserMedia to let you take a picture of your face, which is then converted to a line drawing and sent to a robot in the Science Museum in London.
The robot then draws out your portrait in a patch of sand, which you can watch live on YouTube and visitors can watch in person at the museum. According to the Google Chrome blog:
It’s just about as crazy as it sounds, and twice as cool.