Employees in the home office, schoolchildren and students cannot avoid loading the video conference programs required for work or lectures onto the PC. Good thing most of the video chat tools work in the virtual environment too.
Run video conferences via virtual PCs – this is how it works.
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Thanks to video conferencing programs, there is no need for on-site attendance or expensive travel expenses for meetings, training courses and lessons. If you want to communicate via video conference, you can use a virtual machine for this. This is useful if you do your home office tasks in the virtual environment anyway. If you do not want to set up the software used for video chats directly on your private PC, for example for security reasons, a virtual machine is just as helpful. Even if you want to use a webcam for video conferences and the corresponding chat software for the host operating system is not available, the webcam can be addressed in a virtual machine. Using the example of Virtualbox, you can find out what you should pay attention to when making video calls in the VM.
Activate webcam in the VM
A new function in Virtualbox is “Host Webcam Passthrough”. The virtualization software thus enables a guest system to use the webcam connected to the host PC. Webcam passthrough supplements the generic USB passthrough in Virtualbox, which in earlier versions often failed with webcams.
Webcam passthrough is part of the Virtualbox Extension Pack, which must be installed. Check whether it is running for you in Virtualbox by clicking on “File” and “Settings” under “Additional packages”. Once the extensions have been set up, the program displays “Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack” on the right in the window.
Start the virtual PC in which you want to hold the video conference. You pass the webcam connected to the host PC to the VM via the “Devices” menu in the menu bar of the virtual machine. The menu shows the available video input devices. Click the name of your webcam. The device is removed from the host PC and connected to the virtual PC. A check mark in front of the webcam name indicates that you can use the camera in the VM.
The camera tool preinstalled in Windows 10 can be used to check the operational readiness of the webcam within the VM. You open it in the start menu via “Camera”. If the webcam is integrated in the virtual environment, the tool displays the live video image from your webcam.
In the “Devices” menu, pass the webcam connected to the host PC through to the virtual machine. Use the “Camera” tool supplied with Windows 10 to check whether the camera works in the VM.
Integrate the microphone in the VM
Most webcams have a built-in microphone. Webcam passthrough in Virtualbox automatically redirects the camera’s audio signal to the virtual environment. No adjustments to the audio settings in Virtualbox are then necessary.
If you want to use another audio device for video conferencing, such as a headset, the procedure depends on the device type. If the audio device is connected to the host PC via USB, integrate it after starting the VM via “Devices”, “USB” and the name of the audio device.
If you want to use a microphone connected to the computer via the microphone input of the sound card in the virtual machine, the microphone must be addressable on the host PC. You can check this with the “Voice Recorder” tool pre-installed in Windows 10. Make a short test recording and, if necessary, adjust the microphone settings by clicking on the three dots at the bottom right and “Microphone settings”.
Both functions must be activated for the virtual PC so that the microphone can be recorded and the sound output in the virtual machine. Quit the virtual system and right click on the PC in the Virtualbox window. Select “Change” and go to “Audio”. Make sure that in the “Advanced” section there is a tick in front of “Activate audio output” and “Activate audio input”.
If the microphone cannot be addressed in Virtualbox afterwards, open the menu item “Audio” again. Check whether there is another setting option for “Host audio driver” in addition to the preset “Windows DirectSound” and “Null audio driver” that you can try out. Under “Audio Controller” activate “ICH AC97” as a test.
Connect the bluetooth headset
You want to use a Bluetooth headset for video conferencing in your virtual machine. Then go back to the menu “Devices” in the menu bar of the VM. Select “USB” and click on the name of your Bluetooth adapter or Bluetooth dongle. The Bluetooth icon disappears from the host PC’s system tray and appears in the virtual machine instead. Finally, start the Bluetooth proximity search in the operating system of the virtual PC and pair the headset.
If Virtualbox does not display your Bluetooth adapter in the “Devices” menu, the device cannot be passed through to the VM. Typical causes are a proprietary Bluetooth dongle or the driver of the adapter manufacturer.
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