Thank you all so much for you kind help,
yes I think the idea of having a simple embedded processor with webcam attached via a usb port sounds very good.
since i am a mechanical graduate, i have less knowledge about the electrical bits, so can you please suggest some more innovative ways of interfacing the module that is the camera to the processor?
also one last thing, if I go on with using a simple processor and a webcam, can you tell me which will be the main areas i need to work, eg. programming, interfacing etc. i know this is very low level question, but this is the first time i will be doing an electrical based project.
thank you for your help