aNewDomain — Spy gadgets, devices and other electronic equipment that enables you to secretly investigate, well, anything, is getting good and cheap. Whether you really are a spy, a secret agent, a double agent (!) or in cover special ops — or just plain nosey — you don’t have to be too much of a gear head to love the spy gear I’ve rounded up for you below.
Just remember to exploit these technologies and methods in accordance with the law.
First off, assignment and location are key. That’s where tracking tech comes in.
First, you want to be able to track the other spies, right. The best devices for catching hidden transmitting devices are small and inexpensive these days.
And if you need to track and safeguard your jewels — or maybe just your company’s IP and trademark docs — the installation of access control and intrusion solutions makes sense. GPS and mapping software will let you track vehicles covertly and your other assets, human and otherwise, too.
According to a former federal government special agent who runs the corporate investigation firm Risk Strategies Group in Tulsa, who of course wanted to remain unnamed, this is the basis for a screaming spy kit.
Do consider security and safety, though.
The most astounding news from the spy gear world is that there are now mobile apps for Apple iOS and Android that let you manage and have control over your assets from anywhere.
Fuller-fledged software programs that focus on distinct features, like usability for instance or performance, are for the more serious spy.
Advisory HQ lists the 10 best. They’re good.
- These programs allow businesses and consumers to locate and keep track of their assets. For businesses, licensing fees are the most important aspect to evaluate. All this tracking software could cost you … the life of a spy is not necessarily cheap.
Databases are another consideration. Asset-tracking software for most platforms are typically SQL database-based. But IntelliTrack uses Microsoft’s simple Access Database. Do figure out how you will manage your trackers and tracked items, though, and do it …
And no spy feels complete without a secret camera … or a secret-camera app.
With so many video surveillance systems out there, anything anyone does, it seems, will be captured on video. Video security systems are installed by nosy businesses, government entities and other people who just want to watch you all the time. Lovely. And you can do this, too, if you obey local laws.
And provided you are not too obnoxious about it.
Check out SneakyPix for iOS ($1). I like it. It is as convenient as cheap camera apps get, I think. Developed by Skidmore Apps, you just download it and start capturing your secret pictures and videos.
Stealth is key, and if used correctly nobody will notice that you are watching the target — you will just appear to be talking on the phone.
Here’s how to use SneakyPix
First, place your phone on silent mode to eliminate anything that might alert the subject that your phone is making sound patterns. The flash feature of the camera should be disabled. Your cover will be blown if the flash goes off — and then you’ll get a lot of angry questions.
Once SneakyPix is launched, you can start to take video clips and pictures. Remember to keep your phone still for the best quality pictures.
Useful SneakyPix features include vibration alerts, which let you know when pictures are taken. There’s a fake screen feature that displays a different screen, so that if someone looks at your smartphone the pictures will be hidden. You can also specify the number of photos you want the app to take.
Finally, image resolution can be adjusted easily — the higher the resolution, the more you can zoom in on your target. Higher resolution images also take longer to capture, so consider that when snapping away.
Honey, where are the kids?
Commercially available vehicle tracking systems are also popular for consumer purposes. Some consumer products have tracking devices built into them by the manufacturer. These devices are especially prevalent in vehicles (e.g., OnStar). They also could record speed, location or brake usage and potentially provide direct communication with persons in the vehicle.
Most devices incorporate a GPS transmitter with cellular technology to triangulate a network of satellites orbiting around the world. Since people spend a lot of time in their vehicles, tracking them this way is very efficient and relatively easy.
Here are the top five car tracking devices on eBay.
- The Spark Nano is the highest-rated tracker due to its easy installation and basic web-based interface. This device can be used on a PC or smartphone and is most recommended for wayward teenage drivers — for their own safety — who are deviating from their “geofence.” It’s also the most affordable.
- Zoombak Advanced A-GPS connects to a car battery, or is self-powered, and alerts when the driver is outside the geofence. It’s best known for its ease of use, portability and lengthy log history.
- Escort Entourage PS is a portable or hardwired tracking device highly endorsed by leading automotive publications for its live tracking. It allows users to track a vehicle’s whereabouts and has the geofencing feature available in its monthly subscription.
- The Garmin GTU 10 tracker is available by subscription and you can check online for real time location monitoring deviations from the geofence. The device has a long battery life and comes with a one-year subscription.
- LoJack car trackers are the priciest of the recommended devices for a one-time fee because it must be specially installed by the dealer. But it also has the special feature of alerting the police of theft of the vehicle. This device is most suitable for high-end luxury cars or vintage antiques.
Car tracker devices need to be installed by a qualified professional. Consumers should consider length of battery life, real time online tracking vs. handheld tracking and the best prices for your product.
Whether involved in covert activities against evil crime lords or enemy dictators — or just everyday domestic missions — this spy gear allows you to protect your assets, monitor suspicious behavior and, most importantly, protect the safety of your family and loved ones.
It’s like Mission: Impossible. “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.” Ha!
Images in order: She Spy by Kangrex via Flickr; Spy vs Spy by Tony Fischer via Flickr; Port of Longbeach by Mapbox via Flickr; SneakyPix Screenshot courtesy Skidmore Apps; Spark Nano screenshot courtesy Brickhouse Security.