I am trying to use my Raspberry Pi 3 as a videoconference device.

I tried Skype but it doesn't have a version for ARM. Hangouts however seems to work using a default Chromium browser.

I tried with an old webcam PlayStation Eye and the video worked but not the microphone.

What do I need to look for to get a web cam with microphone that will work on the Pi?

  • Shopping recommendations are explicilty off-topic, but if you want to ask if a particular device will be compatible, or what is required for a kind of device to be compatible, that's fine, so I have edited the question along the latter lines. However, you will probably have better luck if you ask whether a particular webcam will work. – goldilocks Dec 14 '16 at 15:42
  • Thanks for the editing. I wrote it in a rush , I apologize for the redaction. I checked this link elinux.org/RPi_USB_Webcams but I was more confident to listen from other people who already managed to make hangouts to work so I could get the same device. – YaKs Dec 15 '16 at 9:45

The best thing to do is to search online for the make and model and "linux", e.g., "acme x42 webcam linux". You want to look for things that people report as working out of the box, microphone included, and do not require the installation of an additional driver. At this point in time, since there is a generic USB class interface for such devices implemented in the kernel, most things should be okay, but some odd things (such as "an old webcam playstation eye"), or cameras with special features that require OEM software, will not.

The problem with OEM software/drivers is that even if they have a linux version, it is most likely only available pre-compiled for x86(-64) and will not work on the Pi hardware. Even if the source is available, if it is something that has not been incorporated into the vanilla kernel tree, it will not be available pre-build for the Pi, and compiling modules for the Pi is not something I recommend unless you have investigated the process and feel comfortable doing it. I.e., do not buy something thinking this will be an simple formality to deal with.

There is always the possibility that a particular driver that is available in the vanilla tree is still not pre-compiled for the Pi. However, again, most plain jane, reasonably new devices of this sort should use a generic USB video and audio class interface, meaning a driver unique to the particular make/model is not necessary.

If you find something and do a little searching that indicates it will probably work, feel free to ask specifically here about it and I or someone else can attempt to verify this. Of course, it is probably not possible to say for certain unless someone with that device can confirm it. If possible, I recommend you buy from a nearby brick and mortar store that will take a return within a short time period, no questions asked (or if you simply say that it did not work for your purposes).

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  • the problem of the OP is software, not hardware – strumpet Dec 14 '16 at 16:42
  • Thanks a lot for your answer. my problem is more about compatibility with specific software, meaning Hangouts. I was worry about the situation were the webcam is properly detected at OS level but not at application level meaning Chromium+Hangouts. That is why I was asking for experiences from others with specific HW. I will take the risk and buy one and start testing/debugging ;). Thanks! – YaKs Dec 15 '16 at 9:51

The best video conference tool for Raspberry Pi is, without any doubts, the VideoConference OS. As you can read in the description, it's a ready-to-use image that you can flash on a SD card to have two-way audio/video, live full fps video conferences over the web with more than one participant (smartphones, PC browsers (plugin-free), and so on...) and many other functionalities out-of-the-box, without any configuration. It supports the official Raspberry Pi Cameras and USB webcams.

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  • Beware this does not guarantee the microphone on your camera will magically work. – goldilocks Dec 14 '16 at 16:44
  • very nice project, thanks for the tip :). But I was looking for a more market solution. I want my daughter to talk with the grandparents and they use Hangouts for that. Otherwise I need to configure the devices in both ends. I will buy a good reputation webcam and pray god that Cromium+Hangouts like it. Cheers! – YaKs Dec 15 '16 at 9:57
  • @goldilocks it depends on what you mean by "magically". for sure UV4L will use the microphone in the webcam by default. – strumpet Dec 15 '16 at 10:17
  • @jacortijo that's very likely your only option. – strumpet Dec 15 '16 at 10:18
  • @strumpet For sure UV4L will not make the microphone work if the audio part of the camera requires some weird proprietary software. You may think that sounds stupid, and I agree, but that does not make it impossible, and once upon a time not all that long ago (< 10 years) not all webcams adhered to the USB video class standard, etc. UV4L cannot do anything with a camera that will not work with the kernel. I have at least one webcam in this category that has, and will never, work on a linux system. – goldilocks Dec 15 '16 at 12:28

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