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I'm playing around with a few webcams, looking for the right solution.
Some background first:
I've ported my business software to Linux, from Clipper/FoxPro on WinDOS to xHarbour on RedHat - I don't think the specific Linux distro is too big an issue, but it's running fine on RH 6.x, 7.x, and 9.0; xHarbour is open source with a few dozen pretty dedicated people working on it (albeit mostly on the Windoze version), and I know at least a few of them have things running smoothly on pretty much all the *n?x's, including various BSD's.
I've got a client with a pretty decent check-cashing system based on the POS, and one of the things that makes it work for him is snapping photos of customers and scanning checks and IDs. The existing system - registers are DOS and "Pix Server" is Windoze - works fine, but it's cumbersome and slow as far as taking pics. Now, with the Linux version, we can put the camera on the register computer, and the clerk can take a picture by pressing one key - which beats hell out of mousing around and typing in a filename (the filename is the customer ID code).
I'm typing this on a little SpaceWalker box (about 7 x 7 x 10 in.) with two webcams plugged into USB ports - one's a Logitech 4000 and the other's a WatchPort (new owners of 3COM Pro - it's also self-described as "Vicam" ). The WatchPort has a LOT better picture, but something's screwy in the driver parameters, and it's got the brightness turned up all the way, so it's all washed out. I haven't been able to get either one of them to step up to full 640x480 picture yet in console mode, but I think that's just a matter of figuring out now the )*(@#$ the v4l parameters can be set... gnomemeeting will jump the WatchPort back and forth between 320x240 and 640x480, and when it first jumps, just for about a half-second the picture looks fine, then it brights out.
Actually, we're looking (probably) at having two cameras, one in a "box" to take snaps of IDs and checks and one on the counter to take snaps of customers. Neither of these two really does a good enough job so far to be used for the documents, so we may wind up going with a small, fast scanner - there are a few around, but like the webcams, the "good" software is all for windoze so far...
If we can get the driver stuff figured out, I'm fairly happy with the WatchPort, but I'm still looking for something better for the IDs and checks.
I'd sure appreciate any suggestions about cameras (the Apple iSight looks really good - it's the only thing I've seen so far with autofocus, which probably is going to be a must on the ID's and checks) or scanners... or if you can think of any other way, I'm open to ideas.