Spy glasses: All you need to know
Once a cool gadget in secret agent tales and futuristic fiction, spy glasses have now become a convenient tool in the world of surveillance and security enforcement.
Imagine a scenario where you need to record vital footage discreetly. A camera or phone can easily give you away. What you need is a harmless accessory that no one would question. Spy glasses are precisely the device you want. They look harmless, like your regular spectacles, but built into the frames is a video recorder that can capture a significant amount of footage. This capability gives you a reliable recording device under the guise of innocent eyewear.
Whether you choose to wear the glasses or leave them in an inconspicuous location, you can use spy glasses for different surveillance needs. However, when it comes to surveillance, ethical considerations can reach a moral, and perhaps legal, gray area. It is vital to understand what this gadget is capable of achieving.
Mechanism of spy glasses
Spy glasses are usually unisex frames with a video camera embedded at eye level, generally between the lenses, for hands-free recording. An accompanying microphone can pick up sounds several feet away. There are no exposed switches to start or stop the camera which ensures that the recording takes place without arousing suspicion.
Users start recording by pressing a discreet strip along the frame arm. The confirmation of the recording depends on the device model. Some models have an indicator light located on the inside of the frame so that only the user is aware of the recording. Other spy camera glasses are built to vibrate when recording starts. There are usually time and date stamps on the footage to solidify the footage as proper evidence.
The footage is stored in a microSD card, accessible from one of the spectacle arms. The microSD card is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems. You will use a card reader to retrieve and play the recorded footage on a computer. Folding one of the spectacle arms will reveal a USB port to charge the device’s battery.
Types of spy glasses
Spy glasses with hidden cameras are intended for adults.
The glasses exist in various types, even though all are based on the same mechanism.
HD spy glasses – 1080p spy glasses, as well as 720p spy glasses, can record high-quality videos and provide clear images and audio.
Spy camera reading glasses – These spy camera glasses have clear lenses and look similar to regular reading glasses. They are the most inconspicuous kind.
Spy camera sunglasses – These look like sunglasses and are black or tinted. They work well in the sun and give the user the classic secret agent look!
Spy camera goggles – This is one of the cooler versions of the spy glasses.
Touch technology spycam glasses – These are perhaps the most advanced type on the market. Instead of pressing on a strip to start recording, the user can just tap a finger on the glasses to begin recording.
Outdoor sports camera spy glasses – Similar to the sunglasses, these are meant for the outdoors. They have polarized lenses to cut down on glare and protect your eyes.
Bluetooth spy camera glasses – These can come with a lot of features. The Bluetooth connection to your phone allows you to answer calls. Some let you listen to music with attachable earbuds. However, the frames are not as slim as the regular spy glasses, and switches and earbuds give away its spy functionalities.
Attachable camera spy glasses – The camera in these glasses is attached externally to the frame. The user can record videos and take high-quality pictures, but these spy glasses are not as discreet as a model with a built-in camera.
Spy glasses for kids
There are also spy glasses meant for kids. Although they do not come with a hidden camera, these toy gadgets are popular with children.
Rearview spy kids glasses – The spy factor lies in its mirrored outer edges, which reflect what is behind the wearer. They are great for kids’ detective or spy games.
Kids’ spy glasses telescope – As the name suggests, these are telescopes that kids can use to “spy” while playing a game.
Essential features to look for in spy glasses
Since there are so many different variations, there are some important features you should look for to buy the best spy glasses.
A camera lens that is unnoticeable and not discernible to casual observers.
A built-in microphone with noise-cancellation technology.
An HD camera for better-quality recordings.
Low-light recording capability.
Battery life that supports at least an hour of recording time.
Support for microSD cards of at least 32 GB. Anything less than that will limit recording time too much when recording higher-quality video.
A waterproof or water-resistant design to help ensure the spy glasses are not damaged by moisture.
Spy glasses: Uses and advantages
Spy glasses have big advantages in reshaping methods of surveillance and security.
Cost efficient – Spy glasses offer discreet hands-free recording at a low price point. Cheap spy sunglasses and cheap spy reading glasses are widely available from many online retailers. Most are less than $200. Quite a bargain, considering all they can do.
Ideal point of view – Since the camera is located between the lenses, spy glasses mimic the first-person viewpoint while recording. It gives the user the ability to record a clear shot of someone’s face.
Compact design – When you try to record covertly, bulky cameras might not be the best idea. With the spy glasses camera built into the frame, it's a more lightweight and hassle-free option for recording.
Strengthen security and surveillance – You can never be too cautious when it comes to keeping valuable items safe. Spycam glasses can effectively keep track of who is breaching your space and provide substantial video evidence.
Spy glasses: Challenges and limitations
Since these gadgets record videos privately, it is possible that these powers can be misused.
Check federal, state and local laws before using spy glasses to record other people.
Breach of privacy – This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges of the spy camera glasses. Privacy issues are also a concern with smart glasses like Google Glass. No one wants to be recorded without permission, and, in the wrong hands, spy glasses can take advantage of vulnerable personal and private spaces.
Facilitate criminal activities – With the spy glasses, one can easily record sensitive videos for mass circulation. Choosing to record a crime instead of acting against it also falls under an area with moral, ethical and legal implications.
Limited view – The camera can record only what is visible to the user. It cannot record what is not within the view of the camera lens, thus not necessarily giving the full context of the story.
Not an alternative for prescription eyeglasses – Spy glasses cannot replace actual eyewear meant to correct vision. These are only accessories meant for discreet recording.
Safety hazard – Spy glasses can interfere with the user’s attention. This may cause significant risk not only to the user but also to those around.
Where to get spy glasses
You can find spy glasses in any store that sells spy gadgets. Even stores that usually sell standard surveillance equipment may sometimes stock spy glasses. Some of the online stores where these are widely available are Zetronix, Brickhouse Security, Spy Associates and The Spy Store. Amazon, too, has an exhaustive list of spy glasses targeted to both adults and kids.
Whatever your surveillance requirement, spycam glasses can be beneficial in enhancing your personal security. However, there are also pitfalls to using the gadget. Spy glasses record without permission, and the potential for invasion of privacy must be taken into account.
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Page published in February 2021
Page updated in March 2022