As a kid, were you intrigued by the enticing ads in your comic books? You know the ones I mean, gadgets that would enable you to see around corners, or listen to conversations right through walls? We couldn’t resist the appeal, especially since they only cost a dollar or two. Before we knew it, we’d be sealing our hopes, as well as our money in an envelope, eagerly awaiting the day our special spy toys would arrive in our mailbox.
Since those days, we’ve enjoyed thriller spy movies, and endless crime shows on television, where investigators employ every trick in the book to solve the latest case. We are amazed by the speed and accuracy of intricate lab work, digital enhancements, and computer imaging. As cutting edge as all of this is, there are some techniques that have been around a long, long time.
Did you ever try using invisible ink when you were a child? This was a fun thing to do that rated right up there with magic and card tricks. By mixing up a special ink of milk, lemon juice, or sugar water, your secret message would only be visible when the paper was heated. Invisible ink is still used today, but instead of exposing the message to heat, a prescribed wavelength of ultraviolet light is used.
We all have heard of spy satellites that circle the globe gathering information from high above the earth. Before satellites, airplanes were used for intelligence missions in World War II, which enabled military leaders the chance to monitor allied and enemy movements. It is astounding to think that even way back in the American Civil War, observation balloons were floated by both sides in the conflict, to observe their own, and enemy troop locations.
Movies are ripe with many measures taken by spies as they alter their appearance in order not to be recognized. We’ve seen hair being cut and dyed, women dressing as men, and in one instance in 1754, Chevalier d’Eon de Beaumont was sent to St. Petersburg posing as Mademoiselle Lia de Beaumont. As improbable as it may seem, the ploy worked, and Tsarina Elisabeth was persuaded to forgo a strategy with Britain, and side with Austria and France instead.
In some old films we see bandages being slowly unwrapped on a surgically rearranged face. Or in some flicks, complete latex masks with hair attached, completely change the facial appearance of a character. Today, with the use of facial recognition software, spies may have to forgo a mask or simple change of attire, and revert to plastic surgery once again.
Today, digital technology has resulted in devices that are so small and effective that the modern day spy can rely mostly on gathering information remotely. Unless the agent absolutely has to, there is no need for elaborate disguises. Devices can simply be put in place and activated, which means that we can all become spies if need be.
Just about any everyday item can be used as a camera. A light fixture, a calculator, or a smoke detector can have a tiny camera inserted into it, so that photos can be taken without the slightest hint of what’s going on. Spy Cams can help protect your business and your home. They can also keep people honest. Just knowing that areas are being monitored makes us all safer.
There are devices that can be installed on your computer to monitor what’s being watched and messages that are being sent and received. The SIM card can be removed from a cellphone and inserted into a special device that displays all the deleted text messages. All these items have become completely affordable, easy to obtain, and use.
A really exciting development is the GPS tracker. With a personal tracker you can monitor your children, ensuring that they are safe at all times, and knowing their location if they suddenly need help. Then there is another version that you can use for your vehicles. Car theft is rampant and on the rise. If one of your cars is stolen, this device will greatly aid the police in returning your property to you.
Now that you are all grown up, with property and loved ones to protect, isn’t it comforting to know that spy gadgets are still available? This time, however, you won’t need to consult the back pages of your comic book. Today, with just a few clicks of your mouse, you can access spy shop catalogues online, and order some neat spy gadgets conveniently from your computer.