A video conference camera / webcam is used to relay images to the person you are communicating with over your PC (personal computer) or video conferencing system.
Of course if you're on a PC you would need a WiFi or other network connection as well as a connection between the camera and PC.
The camera is usually going to be a USB connection if it is not built in to your laptop.
There are many things that the webcam is use for. A few uses are:
Other capabilities webcam is adopting is a technology called control devices. It has the ability to track your movements and have them (your movements) control what the screen does.
For example, the XBox Kinect, Wii, or PlayStation Eye monitor your body movement and your body movement control what you or your character on the desktop, laptop or television screen does.
All of the previous mentioned benefits and uses mentioned above are benefits of the webcam. However, the webcam is not necessarily a video conference camera.
The difference is the webcam is usually used to connect to your PC for video chat. Video Chat is usually when you communicate with one person over the network.
For example, you chat on video date sites, video phones, etc. A video conference camera has technology to help communicate with different groups at different locations at the same time - hence the root word conference in conferencing.
However, since technology has allowed us to communicate by multi-point via PC it makes the act of video conferencing possible through webcams.
But there are some qualities that webcams lack that true video conference meetings need . . . and what they need is telepresence capabilities. That is the true difference with a video conference camera.
The benefits of this sort of camera is that it has high-end, state of the art, audio and sound. The closest line of webcam that may match these qualities are the product line of Logitech.
Also, maximum bandwidth rate to provide lifelike communication between the two groups speaking. In some cases the camera is able to project each others image onto a 3-D projection screen.
For video Relay / Interpretation services the camera may have the capability to zoom in and out.
Along with the benefits of these cameras you have to be cautious of privacy issues. There have been cases where cameras have been hacked into. It is to the point where hackers are looking into your room and spying on you . . . seeing the same thing that the person you are talking to is seeing.
This is usually done by a virus called a Trojan Horse.
Trojan Horses appear as trustworthy files on your computer.
When you click on them it may activate your webcam or track previously recorded messages in your computer.
That is why it is critical that you make sure you know and are familiar with all files that you activate.
An actual crime was done by spying on student by a hacker using an iSight Camera some years ago.
Webcams and video conference cameras both do the same job.
But if you have an enterprise or large cooperation that has to have conference meetings over a video conferencing system, a video conference camera may be recommended.