4 (preferably identical) webcams on one Macbook Pro?

edited June 2014 in How To...


I am planning on using four (preferably identical) webcams (Logitech QuickCam 9000 Pro) on one laptop (Macbook Pro). All information I found about this a quite old. Did anyone successfully manage to run multiple webcams of the same kind on one computer? I am currently testing with a Logitech QuickCam 9000 Pro and a Philips Notebook-Webcam SPC530NC Easy and a 3-Port USB-3 Hub (Transcend TS-HUB3K), here are my results so far:

I am using the basic Capture-Example and Processing 2.2.1. For testing if the cam is recognized by the operating system I use FaceTime.

Philips + Logitech on USB-Ports:

  • FaceTime ✓
  • Processing ✓

Philips on USB-Port, Logitech on USB-Hub (powered):

  • FaceTime ✓
  • Processing ✓

Both on USB-Hub (powered):

  • FaceTime ✓
  • Processing X – Depends on the frame rate. At 800x600 1fps both images are displayed, at 30 frames only webcam is showing, program runs fine, no errors, just no image.

Some other things I noticed:

When pluging the USB-cables in/out or switching ports, it may happen that the camera name changes – name=USB-Kamera #3,size=1600x1200,fps=30 – »#3«, »#4«, … This will result in a NullPointerException in cam1.start();.

So, seems like two cameras on one USB 2.0 Port is not working at 30fps. There are several options now – Trying on a computer with four USB-ports, using two laptops (each capturing 2 webcams) and sending the image-data over network to another computer (master).

Any ideas on how to get around the USB-bandwidth limitations? Similar projects? I thought this would be very easy, but seems like it is not…

I’m thankful for every suggestion!

Other helpful discussion: Multi-Webcam Woes (USB Hubs)


  • So, here are some more things: Using a USB-Hub on a faster port may probably work. As there does not seem to be a Firewire USB-Hub, the only option left (when using a Macbook Pro) is some kind of Thunderbolt-Hub. They are sold as docking stations and are currently very expensive. Some monitors (like the Apple Thunderbolt Display) have this built-in, so they might work for this. Anybody tried something like that?

    I really would like not to have to use a Desktop-PC for this setup because of mobility.

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