Webcam stream capturing enabled in Firefox 20

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 16, 2013

I have to admit that I never used a webcam in my entire life. I can see where a cam can be a great way of communicating with people who are not nearby, but I somehow never stumbled into situations where I might want to use video chat on a computer. Part of this comes from me being more the silent type who is not that chatty to being with, with the rest coming from the knowledge that everything I say or do on cam can be recorded by the other party without me knowing about it.

Regardless of my personal opinion and use of webcams, I do know that they provide computer users with excellent communication options. Like many other technologies they are part of the HTML5 specification so that users in the future can capture camera and microphone streams without the need for third party plugins.

Mozilla is the third company after Google and Opera that is implementing WebRTC natively into the desktop version of the browser. Gum or getUserMedia is part of the HTML5 DOM Api component that is part of WebRTC. The technology has been enabled in Firefox Aurora and Nightly for now and will make its way in the coming months to the beta and stable channels of the browser once they reach Firefox 20.

You can head over to the test page that Mozilla created for the new audio and video recording feature of Firefox to test it out for yourself. Just click on the video, audio or audio & video buttons on the page to test the current implementation in Firefox. Note that you may receive prompts asking you to verify that you want to share devices, the microphone or camera, with the site that is requesting permission to access them. You need to share the devices before you can run tests.

firefox audio recording

Mozilla notes that gum demos working in Chrome need to be modified to work in Firefox as well which can be attributed to the fact that standards have not been finalized yet. When that is happening, you can expect implementations to work across browser versions.

We still currently prefix gUM as mozGetUserMedia because the standards committee is not yet done defining it. So, gUM demos that work with Chrome (using the navigator.webkitGetUserMedia call) will need to be modified to include the moz prefix.

Firefox 20 or newer also supports PeerConnection and DataChannels features, but they are not enabled by default. To enable them, load about:config in the Firefox browser and set the media.peerconnection.enabled preference to true.


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  1. DanTe said on January 16, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    And it is integrations like this that I put a piece of electrical tape over every camera in every laptop I set up :)

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