Covert Spy Cameras and Their Technical Evolution
Over the past decade there has been a marked evolution in the technology of surveillance equipment, along with a significant reduction in price among security cameras, tracking devices, and GPS units. Perhaps the biggest evolution of these has been seen in the area of hidden spy cameras. In less than 10 years, the “nanny cam” has evolved from a complicated setup of electronic equipment to a simple to use electronic work of art. So, what steps has technology taken in the evolution of spy cameras?
Wired to Wireless Hidden Cameras
Like standard security cameras found today protecting homes, businesses, and found on nearly every street corner in the city, nanny cams were another wired camera needing video connections running from the camera unit back to a recording device, like a VCR or monitor. Along the way, micro chips got smaller and more powerful in creating miniature lenses, or what is today called pinhole cameras. These were easily placed into such everyday items, like teddy bears, clock radios, and nearly any household item. Although still available today and often seen in disguised hidden cameras, like smoke detectors, floodlights, and some wall clocks, they require two sets of wires to transmit power and signal to a TV or DVR.
Concealing the wires was a bit cumbersome, but then a new generation of wireless cameras hit the market starting around 2000. First manufactured in such inanimate objects as planters, teddy bears, books, exit signs, and countless other items, wireless cameras eventually found their way into practical working components, like alarm clocks, clock radios, wristwatches, cell phones, fountain pens, and CD players. Inside the component was a tiny pinhole video camera and a small wireless transmitter. When a customer purchased a wireless nanny cam, they got not only a working electronic device but a receiver, A/V cables and power adapter as well. The tricky part came when it was actually time to set up the hidden camera system. The receiver that was provided had to plug into either a monitor close by or a VCR if they wanted to record events throughout the day. This required the user to place the VCR somewhere in the house within 100 feet of the camera, Lawmate Products either in another room or on another floor altogether. The receiver was then plugged into the VCR, and when the user was ready to start recording he just hit the “start” button. Voila!… well, not exactly. A standard VHS cassette can only record eight to ten hours max, which can create a problem. However, with the advent of PCs and DVR players this did greatly extend the recording time available.
Let’s say a mother wants to keep an eye on the nanny or babysitter while she’s at work during the day. Just before leaving the house in the morning she would plug in the nanny cam and turn on the VCR or DVR to start recording. On arriving home at the end of the day and wanting to review what was recorded, she would have to sit for several minutes while fast-forwarding through hours of video, often looking at nothing at all. At the time, this was the only means available to monitor her child’s welfare during the day, and the process at best was tedious.
Motion Activated Spy Cams
The concept of motion activation in video recording was a big breakthrough in the spy camera industry. Although the technology had been around for years, it wasn’t until the mid 2000’s that it became available and affordable to every day consumers. No longer did people have to sit through countless hours of viewing blank tape only to find nothing eventful was captured that day. Now, with motion activated hidden cameras, recording only took place when the camera’s sensors detected activity in the room. If nothing moved, then the camera sat idle. As a result, the user might only have to watch 30 minutes to an hour of tape rather than 8 hours or more of static recording.