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Real Life Spy Gadgets - For the secret agent in all of us


"QUANTUM SHOT" #566
Link - Article by Simon Rose



Ignorance is bliss... but it does not stand a chance against these devices

We wrote about spy devices before - see Miniature Spy Guns, Part 1, Part 2 and Vintage Miniature Cameras, but today we are looking at modern examples of this fine craft - only scratching the surface, as we dare not investigate deeper...

The resurgence of the James Bond franchise with Daniel Craig’s recent performances on film as 007 have us all thinking about spies again. Despite the end of the Cold War, espionage, whether between governments or industrial espionage between companies, remains very much with us. Yet, despite the cool gadgets seen in movies, whether used by James Bond or those depicted in comedy films like Get Smart and others, the technology of the spy world is never quite as advanced as Hollywood would have us believe.


(images via Ebenezer)

However, with the ever-increasing pace of technology, things that once seemed very much in the realm of science fiction are now most assuredly science fact and some gadgets are readily available to the general public. Obviously, there may be some really cool devices currently in use by the world’s various spy agencies, but for obvious reasons, details and photographs are hard to come by. Consequently, this article focuses on those things that really caught my attention when I was researching the spy gear that is on the market for us mere mortals in 2009.


Left - A hollow coin, containing a microSD card with private data - order it here
Right - The Zippo Style Digital Cigarette Lighter Camera, order it here



Left: more info - Right: more info

Hidden cameras: Screw camera:

It’s hard to believe, but a wireless video camera really is hidden inside this screw. This is almost the perfect hidden camera for just about any location and is virtually undetectable.


(images via 1, 2)

Cigarette pack camera:

This camera, concealed inside a fake cigarette pack, might be a little obsolete now in many countries, where public smoking has been prohibited in most eating and drinking establishments. However, this device could be invaluable to observe nearby activity, while it sits largely unnoticed beside you on the table of a sidewalk cafe:


(images via 1, 2)

Key fob cam:

This camera is hidden inside a normal looking key fob, which you can either carry with you or just leave lying around in a room in which you wish to record activity. After all, who would suspect anything unusual about a set of keys lying on the kitchen counter or on the coffee table? This tiny camera has a 2 GB memory and can record video for up to 150 minutes or store as many as 4000 still images - order it here (left image). Right image shows the amazing miniature Key Fob Gun - more info:


(images via 1, 2)

Flexible fibre cameras:

These types of cameras are frequently used in law enforcement by tactical teams, allowing them to safely monitor a crime scene without being detected. The small video camera can be slid under doors, into cracks or holes in a wall, providing a clear view inside a room.


(images via 1, 2)

Body-worn hidden cameras:

These kinds of cameras are familiar to most of us from movies and TV, but they do actually exist. Tiny video cameras are concealed in the frame of the sunglasses and in the front of the unremarkable looking baseball cap in these pictures.


(images via 1, 2)

If your espionage or intelligence gathering requires more formal attire, this tie might be tailor made for your mission. It appears to be nothing out of the ordinary, but a high quality pinhole camera with a sound card is hidden inside (left image below)


(images via 1, 2)

Similarly, the button on your suit jacket, or indeed on any item of clothing, could be equipped with this miniature device. It looks like a normal button, with nothing to arouse suspicion, but it contains a very high quality colour camera. Most of these types of cameras have a built-in sound chip and come with a set of matching buttons, so that any clothing can be customized.

Watches and pens:

Watch cameras are very reminiscent of James Bond and the secret agent genre and there are many different designs marketed by scores of companies around the world. This watch has a hidden camera behind the number two on the dial (left image). The model on the right also has a minuscule video camcorder embedded in the watch. It has 8 GB of storage and files can be transferred later to a computer:


(images via 1, 2)

Vintage watch spy cameras can be found in many collections today: even though they are impossible to conceal (in fact, you may call them an ultimate attention magnet) they display very sophisticated technology and craftmanship at the time. Here is the legendary 1907 "Ticka" model -



(images via 1, 2)

See a lot more great vintage spy watches here.

And here are some modern pen cameras:


(images via 1, 2)

Here are very neat spy printer and scanner - both the size of a pen:


(image via)

Peephole reverser - This is also known in the business as a tactical door viewer. The device is simply placed over the peephole in the door, allowing you to look into a house or other building. Without alerting the occupants, you can easily assess any threats or potential hazards that may be inside before continuing.

Wireless earphone - Fitting completely into the ear canal, this miniature piece of surveillance equipment is ideal for covert and discreet communication. The wireless earphone works in conjunction with a transmitter, small enough to fit in your pocket or be hidden somewhere on your body (right image):


Left: peephole reverser - Right: wireless earphone

Telephone voice changers:

These types of devices are sometimes sold as toys for children, but very sophisticated models belong more in the realm of true espionage. Many voice changers available today are compatible with most telephones and cell phones. Your outgoing voice is immediately disguised, and by altering the pitch, you can sound male, female or even like a child to the person at the other end of the line


(images via 1, 2)

Bug detector:

If you are in the spy business, clandestinely recording the conversations and activities of the enemy, it’s a sure bet that someone might be doing the same thing to you. These bug detectors locate electronic bugs, phone taps and both wired and wireless hidden cameras in a room or vehicle:


(images via 1, 2)

White noise generator:

You might also wish to consider a white noise generator, which negates the effect of most secret listening devices, such as concealed microphones buried in walls, transmitters concealed in AC outlets and laser/microwave reflection from windows. This gadget produces a security blanket of generated noise, which completely obscures your dialogue with ‘unfilterable’ sound. All very technical stuff, but apparently, it’s a very effective way of ensuring that your private conversations remain private.


(image via)

Dissolving paper:

Spy agencies need to destroy sensitive information on a daily basis. However, even when paper is shredded, it can still be possible for the details of a message or document to be accessible. One solution is this special type of paper, which looks and feels like regular paper, can be typed or written on, but will utterly dissolve in a matter of seconds if it comes into contact with water or indeed any other liquid.


(image via)

Envelope x-ray spray:

Surely this one is straight out of the movies or some superhero comic book? You would certainly think so, but this highly effective spray can turn opaque paper temporarily translucent, allowing you to view the contents of an envelope without ever actually opening it. Thirty seconds later, the envelope will return to it’s original state, leaving no marks, discoloring or indeed any other indications that it may have been tampered with (left image)

Another spray - Clue spray - is designed to leave an invisible film on any surface, which when touched, is transferred to a person’s hand or clothing. Looking for clues or a suspect? Then look no further. Unknown to the victim, the spray remains for up to five days, even if the hands, for example, are washed repeatedly. The spray can’t be seen by the naked eye, but shows up as fluorescent under ultra-violet light (right image)


(images via 1, 2)

Spy weaponry:
The stun pen:


This device is only the same size as a traditional magic marker, but packs one heck of a punch. The aptly named stun pen is capable of administering a 500,000 volt shock, resulting in intense pain and muscle contractions, before your target becomes dazed and drops to the ground like a stone:



Pepper spray rings:

By pressing the small button on the side of the ring, you can deliver two or three one second bursts of concentrated pepper spray, at a range on one foot. Your adversary will experience all the usual delightful effects of pepper spray, such as temporary loss of vision, breathing difficulties, choking, sneezing and nausea, some of which may persist for up to forty five minutes.


(images via)

Concealed pen and lipstick knives:

These elegant looking pens actually do work, but when you pull them apart, they conceal a rather deadly blade. The lipstick knives are similarly hard to detect, carried innocently enough inside a purse, with a 1.5” blade hidden inside the case:



(images via 1, 2, 3)

Sonic nausea:

This small electronic device generates ultra-high frequency sound waves, which can make anyone in the immediate area very queasy, as well as induce headaches, sweating, loss of balance, nausea, or even vomiting. There is a larger version on the market, which can be used to disrupt large gatherings and disperse crowds.


(image via 1, 2)

Just one more piece of info: apparently it is possible to spy out keyboard input from a distance of 20 meters... (read about it here) - the described method reads electromagnetic radiation from a keyboard, recording every keyboard input with relatively little tech effort.

These are just a few examples of the multitude of devices and equipment from the world of spies that are out there. Who knows what other gadgets exist that the spy agencies around the globe keep very much to themselves? Yet, despite the fact that what we see in the movies usually doesn’t exactly reflect the current state of technology, there are still some amazing things that are readily available. Cool stuff for the secret agent in all of us.


(images via Ebenezer)

CONTINUE TO THE "MINIATURE SPY GUNS" ->

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Simon Rose is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children, including The Alchemist's Portrait, The Sorcerer's Letterbox, The Clone Conspiracy, The Emerald Curse, The Heretic's Tomb and The Doomsday Mask. Check out his previous article for DRB here

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YOUR COMMENTS::

10 Comments:

Anonymous Addy said...

This is utterly brilliant! I am very fond of gadgets myself and wrote a fiction blog for two years about a boy who was very keen on them and he went to the James Bond exhibition at the Science Museum.
Addy

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Anonymous Addy said...

Amazingly, my brother is called Simon Rose but I suspect you are not him.

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Blogger Simon Rose said...

No I am not him, I am this guy at http://www.simon-rose.com/ and at http://simon-rose.blogspot.com/
Feel free to visit me there as well.

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Blogger John Kankley said...

Surely some of the video cams offer wireless streaming.

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Blogger Kate Dreams of Alaska said...

This is amazing! Have you checked out the Spy Museum in DC? It's full of things like this ranging from the beginning of spying all the way up to what they're doing today and things that may be available in the future. Well worth the money.

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Blogger Simon Rose said...

Thank you. It was a fascinating to research and write as well.

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Anonymous Jack Myles said...

There's a spy shop near where I live. I went in there recently expecting to see awesome gadgets like this but all they carried were nanny cams and the hidden safe versions of a bunch of household items. Thanks for giving me my spy gear fix!

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Anonymous Spy Cameras said...

They also have one out know that looks like a pack of gum. Their is literally a form factor for just about everything.

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Anonymous Joseph Morris said...

Great gadgets, I love spy oriented stuff, I recently purchased glasses with a camera hooked up, and you upload the footage via USB to your computer.

To Jack, I wish I had a spy store around where I live!

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Anonymous Gerry said...

Some really good spy gadgets, the key fob gun is just a bit scary though!

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