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Spy cameras are miniaturized video cameras which are used to record people without their knowledge. Their small size makes them easy to conceal for surveillance purposes and some are even built into everyday objects, like pens or reading glasses, to allow the user to get close and record quality footage without getting caught. Hidden cameras are not a new invention, as their history goes back to the late 19th century. But nowadays they are more popular than ever, being used by business owners, law enforcement agencies, and ordinary civilians alike.
Cameras can be either wired or wireless. Wireless devices are connected to display and recording equipment, like a TV, a VCR recorder, a computer, or memory card. They use a small but powerful lens to capture and transmit a continuous stream of footage to the recording device. Being wired means that these cameras can work continuously on a round-the-clock basis since they are powered by a cable cord instead of by batteries.
Wireless devices have a similar architecture but their operating time is limited by the battery's life. Depending on the type of spy camera, wireless devices can either record or transmit the video signal to a receiver located nearby, where the footage can be viewed in a display and recorded. Modern technological advances have radically increased the power of these devices, making them capable of capturing high-quality footage even in low light conditions.
Depending on the model, hidden cameras may also have the ability to capture audio. They can also be activated manually, through a remote control, or by a motion sensor. The former option is especially useful for wireless devices since it allows them to save battery energy by turning themselves off when there's nobody in the room to record.
Spy cameras can be used for a wide variety of purposes, going from providing security for private business to household surveillance and even undercover use. There are many reasons why a business would choose to use a small hidden camera rather than a more powerful security camera.
CCTV cameras tend to be conspicuous and easy to spot, which makes them a good target for vandals or robbers that don't want to leave any evidence of their crimes. Using hidden cameras allows companies to keep their facilities under constant surveillance, making it easier to record criminals or even employees committing petty crimes.
The proliferation of cheap hidden spy cameras has led to an increase in civilian use. This has allowed homeowners to set up sophisticated surveillance systems on their houses which only a few years would have been prohibitively expensive. The most common type of cameras found on homes is the ubiquitous nanny cam.
Nanny cameras typically have their own memory card where they can record video and audio and are built into everyday objects to help them blend with their surroundings. This makes them useful for people that need to monitor strangers working in their houses, such as nannies, babysitters, house sitters, or construction workers, while they're not present in the area.
Hidden spy cameras are also used to obtain footage in undercover investigations. Journalists and activists use them to obtain footage that could be considered incriminatory evidence in a justice court or be of interest to the public. By taking hidden cameras undercover investigators can bypass filming restrictions and get the story that they're looking for.
Spy cameras can be divided according to their purpose and technology. While wired devices tend to be cheaper and are used mostly for private surveillance, wireless cameras can be concealed in clothes or objects and used to surveil and record video almost anywhere. The most important types are:
* Body Worn
.Small and easy to wear, these types of cameras are used by private investigators, journalists, and political activists, to infiltrate a location and gather information. They are built in normal objects that people use every day, like car keys, cigarettes, or reading glasses, to make it easy for the person wearing it to point it or even pan a room without raising any alarms. They have a short battery life, which reduces their use for surveillance, but their ability to pass unnoticed makes them perfect for covert video recording
These tend to be the most economical, although their use is mostly reduced to commercial and industrial buildings. They can work continuously providing continuous surveillance of a single area without attracting the attention of vandals or criminals. Although the cost of the cameras themselves is relatively low, they need to be connected to special devices in order to be able to view and record the footage.
Wireless devices depend on batteries for power which limits their operating time but also means that they can be hidden anywhere and keep capturing video for hours. The video is transmitted to a nearby receiving device, where the user can record it, modify the settings, or turn it on/off remotely. They are usually built into everyday objects to make them easy to conceal and can be connected to motion sensors to reduce battery consumption.
Newer wireless cameras can even transmit video to cellphones, thanks to 4G technology. These type of cameras don't depend on local Wi-Fi networks to stream their video signal. Instead, they have their own 4G modem that allows them to transmit high-definition video straight to your smartphone.
These are rapidly substituting older generation of cordless cameras thanks to their video recording ability and useful features. Self-Recording cameras use a miniaturized built-in DVR system to store hours of high-definition video. They also use motion sensors to activate/deactivate themselves, which means that they can save battery life and memory space by recording only when there's somebody in the room.
* IP cameras
IP cameras use a Wi-Fi connection to transmit encrypted video signals to a wireless router. They can be very cheap and ideal for home surveillance since all you need is a simple desktop computer to view and record the footage. They can be viewed from a smartphone or tablet, although in order to access them you must have a high-speed connection, or else the video will consume too much bandwidth and shut down the connection.