Webcam Signature 1.0
Webcam Signature 1.0 is a webcam based color tracking program that allows you to write your signature using a webcam and a pen. To obtain good results, the color of your pen should not be similar to the background that your webcam will see because the program will not be able to distinguish similar colored objects.
What kind of pen do I need?
Any type of pen with a brightly colored cap of a decent size will do. I recommend the standard red BIC pen as seen above. If you cannot get the program to work with the red BIC pen, try some other colors to see if they are any better. Alternatively, you can try fine tuning the colors the program tracks.
An option that works really well is to use a flashlight in place of the pen. The program has a much easier time distinguishing bright objects rather than dulls ones. To use the flashlight option, you will have to set one of the tracking color options in the program and change it to bright white as seen below:
Ensure that you do not drag the "low" color trackbars all the way to the right because this tells the program to track nothing. Just drag the "low" color trackbars to one tick from the right.
How to Use Webcam Signature
- With the program opened, hold down either the CTRL or SHIFT key and then proceed to write your name in front of the webcam. Release the key you are holding down to stop writing. Press the CTRL or SHIFT key again to start writing again.
- Copy your signature to the clipboard or save it to file to further manipulate it in a drawing program.
- Save the data points of your signature so that you can retrieve it in the future to apply different colors and line sizes.
- Practice writing your signature a few times to get used to the sensation of writing in front of your computer screen without touching it.
How do I change what color the program tracks?
Click on one of the three radio buttons labelled "Red", "Green", or "Blue" to change to the primary color you want to track. To fine tune the range of colors you want to track, click on the "Fine Tune Tracking Color" button and the screen above will pop up. When you drag the trackbars, the tracking colors shown in the program will change to show you the darkest and lightest colors it will track.
The program doesn't track my pen very well, it is jittery. What can I do?
Color based tracking methods are sensitive to the color of your surroundings and the lighting conditions. The best thing you can do is ensure that your background does not contain colors that are very similar to the pen that you are using. Switch pen colors if necessary. Also, try fine tuning the range of colors that the program tracks. This will often help.
If you are using a red pen, try adjust the "Low Red" setting first in "Fine Tune Tracking Color". If you are using a blue pen, adjust the "Low Blue" first. Wave your pen around as you adjust the color settings to see at what point the program can track it accurately.
As for lighting, ensure that you are in a brightly lit room and the sun is not shining into your webcam.
Webcam Signature does not track very well around the edges of the drawing window. What can I do?
First, ensure that Webcam Signature is not tracking colors in your background and that you have good lighting.
This is a known issue in Webcam Signature due to the tweaks it uses to ensure that it is able to run in real time. The program does not actually analyze every pixel and it uses an average of all the valid pixels seen to determine where exactly to place the drawing square. Some work will be done to see if this issue can be resolved in the 2.0 release of Webcam Signature. For now, try to keep your signature away from the edges and you should be fine.
How much system resources does Webcam Signature take?
On my Vista 32-bit systems with 2 GB of ram and a middle of the range AMD Athlon x64 processor, I have found that Webcam Signature takes less than 25 megs of ram. As for processing power requirements, it uses about 30-40% of the CPU time when the program has focus and is processing the video.
For versions 1.2 and below: When the program does not have focus or is minimized, it will only use about 2-4% of the CPU time. I coded the program so that it goes into a dormant state when the user is not interacting with it so that you can save battery power when using a laptop.
For versions 1.3 and above: I'm working to reduce the CPU consumption so it is 10% or less on my system. Stay tuned.
Can I change the size of the window or the size of the saved image?
Not currently. This will be done for Webcam Signature 2.0. It was just simpler to fix the sizes so that I didn't have to worry about layout for version 1.0. For now, I recommend you take the saved signature image and further manipulate it in a drawing program to make it to your liking.
What happens when I save the data points for my signature?
A .wsd file is created with the data points of your signature. This is a text based file that simply contains the point based representation of your signature. You can load this saved file in the future to alter the color or the line sizes of your signature. In future versions of Webcam Signature, there will be more options for signature manipulation.
Signatures with transparent backgrounds show up black in my drawing/word processing/etc. program!
Transparent backgrounds are not supported by all programs. Currently, I know that signatures with transparent backgrounds work for MS Office 2007, GIMP, Windows Photo Gallery, and PDF files. It does not appear to work for MS Paint or Photoshop. The best thing to do if you have an incompatible program is to save the signature with a solid background.