A webcam is the name of a class of video camera devices that connect directly to a PC for the purpose of delivering real-time video over the Internet. For a detailed article on this subject see the wikipedia article in webcams.
Recently a number of low cost devices have come onto the market which have applications in a BDSM context. They are low cost network video servers (costing under £100) which allow video cameras to deliver images over the Internet and low cost night vision cameras which can see in the dark (typically under £50).
At its most basic level the dominant can tie the sub up in a bedroom and then monitor them from their PC in another room. They can broadcast images of the sub over the Internet. These techniques can be very erotic for the players if they are into objectification or public play. The use of a webcam to monitor a submissive is not a substitute for taking into account all aspects of bondage safety when tying someone up.
This type of play can be taken further by the addition of home automation systems which allow control of external devices over the Internet. Again, these are now becoming very cheap (under £50 on e-Bay). With one of these it is possible to control a TENS unit to administer electric shocks to the sub remotely.
- www.digidave.co.uk a supplier of home automation, webcams, and video servers.