About Wireless Spy Cameras & How They Work

Updated July 19, 2017

With the leap that has been made in the world of modern technology, many new inventions that were once only talked about have now made their way into the homes of thousands of families. Among these inventions is the wireless spy camera. Once upon a time these cameras were used only by highly trained military personnel and other special government agents. But what are some of the practical uses of this form of technology? How can it be used in the average citizen's day to day life and how does it work? Read on to find out.

History of the Spy Camera

Spy cameras were originally developed for the use of military defence and strategy. Double agents would plant the cameras in offices, elevators and even bathrooms to ascertain information about their enemies' plans or personal information. The first known spy camera was built in 1865 in France and was a 1-inch by 2/3-inch wooden camera that could only take black and white pictures. As time went on the technology was refined and perfected, being used by police forces to catch drug dealers or hit men making their dirty deals. The cameras were wired somewhere in a hotel room or wherever the meeting place was, and was able to capture audio and video of the whole transaction.

The Nanny Cam

In the 1990s a great invention called "The Nanny Cam" was created and put out onto the sales market. The most popular version was made to look like the average child's teddy bear which actually housed a small camera that was hooked up to a VCR. These cameras were used so that the parents could later watch what happened when they left their child with a babysitter or nanny.

Hidden Camera Shows

Many people remember the popular show "Candid Camera," which was a sort of comedy program based on spy cameras placed in public places. The show originated as a radio program entitled "Candid Microphone" that first aired in 1947, and was soon developed for television in 1948.

Even today, millions of viewers watch modern television programs where everyday people are caught on camera being duped by actors that would instigate problems in public and get a reaction from the innocent bystanders. These shows continue to this day with skits that include bringing a person into a new job scenario and then scaring them with something out of the ordinary. As the spy cam looks on they then reveal that it was all a big joke. The most popular of these shows is the Aston Kutcher-produced "Punk'd" series.

How Spy Cams Work

A wireless spy camera captures the image from a small lens and then uses a tiny transmitter to beam the signal to a receiver. The receiver then converts the tiny bits of digital information into a reproduction of the image, where it can then be stored onto a disc or projected with a monitor or television screen. These images can now even be broadcast directly onto the Internet, as is being used with modern weather monitoring systems. The transmitter can be as far as 30 miles away and still send the information to the receiver, although some spy cams are one piece, with built-in memory storage. As we move forward in technological advances, there is no reason to believe that we won't be able to one day beam these signals and frequencies halfway around the world.

Spy Cam Stores and Brands

In today's market, many different spy cameras can be purchased by the amateur spy. There are many stores available where the average joe can soon become an unofficial CIA agent. Some popular models include an actual working lighter that houses a spy camera and memory chip. There are several other versions available, as well, including wrist watches, clocks and neck ties, just to name a few. Popular spy cam brand names include Prowell Technology Group, Huishang Enterprise Co. and Maxstart Technology Co. All of these manufacturers offer a large variety of spy cameras that come in many sizes, styles and memory storage capacities.

Legal Use

Many people often debate on whether the use of a spy camera is legal or not. This is a touchy question that has a logical answer. It is absolutely legal to set up any sort of wireless surveillance system within or outside your home or business (so long as the cameras are pointed within the property you own), as long as the individual being spied upon is not in a place that is generally considered private. These private places include bathrooms, bedrooms and changing rooms. Any other rooms can have surveillance systems set up within them, recording any person without their consent, and it is perfectly legal (this applies to most U.S. states; however, check your local state laws to be sure). It is never legal to record conversations whether on the phone or in public, without the other person's consent. If consent is not given, then the conversation is considered private. Once again, the legality on video recordings pertains to a home or business that you own, not a public place.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Mackey began her writing career in 2007, working as a writing center consultant. She now writes for the marketing and community relations department of Lutheran Health Network. Mackey received a B.A. in English composition and is working toward an M.A. in rhetoric and composition.