How to spot hidden cameras

Published Apr 8, 2015, 7:03 pm IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 12:16 pm IST
With technology downsizing to smaller packages, privacy is a big threat
With technology downsizing to smaller packages, privacy is soon turning into a big threat
 With technology downsizing to smaller packages, privacy is soon turning into a big threat

The recent news about a camera spying on customers changing their clothes in a well-known boutique in Goa has once again raised the question about privacy. The customer reported that she discovered a camera pointed to the changing room and on investigation, it was found that the videos were recorded on a computer from another room in the same premises.

With technology downsizing to miniscule sizes, the world is changing for good. However, there are certain tech gadgets that are causing a threat to privacy. Cameras, the one piece of technology has shrunk down to a miniscule size from what they were before. Cameras have become portable, battery operated and tiny and almost every smartphone out there has at least two of them.  Micro cameras are also available, are as tiny as a rice grain and can be pushed down through your blood arteries and veins for an inside view to help medical advances. However, the tiny camera can expose one’s privacy with great ease. It just needs to be placed intelligently and hidden into some article in the room or camouflaged into something that can go undetected.


With spy (tiny and camouflaged) cameras easily available online and for as cheap as Rs 500 or even lower, privacy is at a higher stake everywhere. Be it your local store, your commute vehicle, a mall, your boutique changing, public toilets or even your hotel room. What concerns the most is where it is placed—changing rooms, public toilets and hotel rooms are highly known areas where your privacy can be blown out to public, or could lane you in a big trouble. So how would you know if your room is bugged with a camera? How would you detect it?


There are a few simple ways that can help you find a hidden camera in the room you are. However, not all are foolproof methods today. Crooks are getting smarter and mounting cameras in various areas, which are well camouflaged into daily objects that go undetected. It could be mounted into a flower pot, in the ceiling, inside smoke detectors, behind mirrors, inside clothes hangers, wall clocks, switches and switch boards, inside the wall, and many more. You have to think one step ahead and find out where it can be hidden, if it is. Below are a few areas where cameras can be hidden and how you should find out.


Curiously check for any cameras and wires that can be in the room. Check flower pots, smoke detectors, wires hanging around the place for no reason, wires leading around the edges of the wall, unnecessary bulges  and repairs on walls, etc. check if the mirror is a two-way mirror. Tap the mirror for hollow sounds—it could be a two-way mirror, even if it is flush with the wall. If you are in a hotel room check your toilets, bathrooms, bedroom area etc for out of place items. Check every article such as clock, television, cupboards, wall units, etc for possible camera and hidden wires. If you are in a changing room, check the clothes hanger, switches and switchboards, clock, ceiling, smoke detectors, flower pots, chair and tables, almost everything in sight.


There are anti-spy gadgets available in the market, which can help detect hidden cameras. Though they may be a bit pricey, if you are concerned about privacy, you should invest on a piece. Even your smartphone can help you find certain hidden cameras by a simple trick.

Below are a few pictures and videos that can help you with various methods to find hidden cameras.

Two-way mirrors: Check your changing room and hotel room for two-way mirrors. It is difficult to detect whether the mirror is a giveaway at first glance, but you can still find out. Every mirror, even though it is mounted in a frame on flush with the wall, should not have anything behind it. Tap it in all areas to find out if it gives you a hollow sound. If it does, there could be something behind it. Another way to find out if your mirror is a two-way mirror is a fingernail test. Touch your fingernail to the mirror at a 90-degree angle. If the reflection and your fingernail touch each other with no gap in between, it is a two-way mirror. A conventional mirror has the reflecting surface behind the glass and you should see a gap of a few mm between the reflection and the original object. Watch the video below:


Use your smartphone to detect hidden cameras: You can use your smartphone to search for hidden cameras too. Surveillance cameras usually use night vision for night surveillance. They make use of IR LEDs to produce infrared light, which can be only visible by a camera. Turn your room completely dark—turn off all lights in the room. The start your smartphone in camera mode and point it around the room. If you see any red or purple lights (bright or dim) you could have spotted a night vision camera. If you don’t know how an infra red light looks like, you can do the following as a test. Turn off all your lights in the room and start up the camera. Now use any television/DVD/AC remote and press the buttons while pointing it to the smartphone’s camera. You will see the infrared light emitted by the IR LED on the remote.


A smartphone with a flash is can also help with spotting regular cameras. Download some flashlight apps which can flash signals (blink at fast rates). Start the flashlight app and set the app to rapidly flash the LED on and off. Now do this in the dark room and flash the light against all the areas and from all possible angles. If there is a hidden camera in the room, you should be able to see a tiny red dot or light reflecting back to you from the camera’s lens. Try this at home if you can. Place any camera, or a smartphone with the camera pointing in your direction (this will act as a spy camera). Now turn off the lights and start the flashlight app on your smartphone. The flashing light will reflect off the ‘spy’ camera’s lens and you will be able to spot it. There are gadgets available in the market that is specially meant for this method of spy camera detection. 



How to find Hidden Cameras


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