Exploring Webcam Support in Google Colab Projects

What will you learn?

In this tutorial, you will learn how to integrate webcam functionality into your Google Colab projects using a combination of JavaScript and Python. By the end of this guide, you will be able to capture images from your webcam within a Google Colab notebook for further processing.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

When working on machine learning or computer vision projects in Google Colab, accessing real-time data input from a webcam can be crucial. However, due to the cloud-based nature of Google Colab, directly integrating webcam support may seem challenging.

But fear not! We have a straightforward solution that involves leveraging JavaScript and Python code snippets within your Colab notebook. This method allows you to capture images from your webcam using JavaScript and then transfer those images back to the Python environment in Colab for processing. Let’s explore how you can achieve this seamlessly.


from IPython.display import display, Javascript
from google.colab.output import eval_js
from base64 import b64decode

def take_photo(filename='photo.jpg', quality=0.8):
  js = Javascript('''
    async function takePhoto(quality) {
      const div = document.createElement('div');
      const capture = document.createElement('button');
      capture.textContent = 'Capture';

      const video = document.createElement('video');
      video.style.display = 'block';
      const stream = await navigator.mediaDevices.getUserMedia({video: true});

      video.srcObject = stream;
      await video.play();

      // Resize according to needs
      google.colab.output.setIframeHeight(document.documentElement.scrollHeight, true);

      return new Promise((resolve) => {
        capture.onclick = () => {
          const canvas = document.createElement('canvas');
          canvas.width = video.videoWidth;
          canvas.height = video.videoHeight;
          canvas.getContext('2d').drawImage(video, 0, 0);
          resolve(canvas.toDataURL('image/jpeg', quality));
  data_url = eval_js('takePhoto({})'.format(quality))
  binary_data = b64decode(data_url.split(',')[1])

with open(filename, 'wb') as f:

return filename

# Copyright PHD


The code snippet above demonstrates how you can seamlessly integrate webcam functionality into your Google Colab project:

  • JavaScript Integration: The take_photo function defined in Python utilizes an embedded JavaScript script to create necessary HTML elements for capturing an image from the webcam.
  • Accessing User Media: The JavaScript script requests access to the user’s camera using navigator.mediaDevices.getUserMedia and displays live footage from the camera.
  • Capturing an Image: When the user clicks “Capture,” a frame is captured from the video feed using a <canvas> element.
  • Sending Data Back to Python: The captured image is converted into Base64 URL format (data_url) and sent back to Python for further processing.
  • Processing Captured Image: In Python, the Base64 URL is decoded back into binary data and saved as an image file on Colab’s server.

This approach effectively combines JavaScript’s ability to interact with web APIs (like accessing webcams) with Python’s processing power within a single notebook.

  1. How do I trigger photo capture?

  2. To capture an image from your webcam, simply call the take_photo() function whenever needed.

  3. Can I change output image quality?

  4. Yes! You can adjust the quality parameter inside take_photo() between 0 and 1; where 1 represents the highest quality.

  5. Will this work outside of Google Colaboratory?

  6. No. This solution is specifically designed for use within Google Colaboratory notebooks due to its unique integration of JavaScript and Python environments.

  7. Do users need any special permissions?

  8. Users must grant browser permissions when prompted for accessing their device’s camera while executing relevant cell blocks containing our provided code snippet.

  9. How can I process captured images further?

  10. After saving locally as JPEG files (or any specified format), use libraries like OpenCV or PIL for additional processing or analysis tasks involving these images.


Integrating webcam support into your Google Colab projects opens up new possibilities for real-time data input and analysis. By combining JavaScript and Python functionalities within your notebook, you can seamlessly capture images from your webcam for various applications such as computer vision projects or machine learning tasks. Start exploring this feature today and enhance your project capabilities!

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