Top Secret Tiny Tech: 11 of the Stealthiest Spy Gadgets

From the wannabe James Bond next door to agents of the CIA and other shadowy government entities, spies of all caliber have a wealth of incredibly stealthy technology to help them listen in on conversations, take covert video, scan faces in crowds, snatch a suspect’s DNA and destroy their own data when compromised. These 11 crazy spy gadgets, from low-tech DIY projects to top-secret experiments, will have you feeling paranoid that somebody – or something – is watching you.

Robotic Roaches

(image via: engadget, popsci)

As if roaches, beetles and other creepy-crawlies weren’t already unwelcome in your home, you’ll be even warier of them as they gain disturbing spy capabilities thanks to the latest in cyborg tech. In 2006, Tokyo University researchers created an army of zombie cockroaches that can be directed by remote control; scientists are now taking their work one step further by using the cockroaches’ bodily functions to power the CPUs and radio components of spy devices.  Researchers have also been able to create remote-controlled cyborg beetles by attaching computer chips to the brains of the insects, equipping them with cameras and other devices.

Face-Scanning Sunglasses

(images via: blue moon in her eyes)

Crowds at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be subjected to face-scanning software hidden in the sunglasses of police. The new technology, which consists of a small camera fitted to the glasses, can capture 400 facial images per second and transmit them to a central computer database, which can store up to 13 million faces. Working at a distance of up to 50 meters (164 feet), the devices will help law enforcement identify those involved in brawls and other illegal activity.

Double Duty Pen and Weapon

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Why carry around an ordinary pen when you could have one that could save your life, or even capture DNA from an attacker? The Benchmark 1100 Pen by Benchmade has a kubotan-style pointed weapon made of either anodized aluminum or stainless steel hidden within its body, while the Uzi tactical pen hides a ‘DNA Catcher’ in its crown, which not only injures attackers but takes a sample of their blood. Both pens also function as glass breakers.

Spy Kite with Digital Camera

(images via: ohgizmo)

Curious about your neighbor’s land, or just want to snap some aerial photographs for more innocuous reasons? The Spy Kite by Eolo mounts a cheap digital camera to a kite with about 82 feet of string, taking photos via wireless remote. Low-tech and low-cost, the kite is not exactly CIA-worthy, but might make you think twice about any wayward kites you see hanging over your home.

Peephole Reverser

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We install peepholes in our doors to protect ourselves, allowing us to identify anyone at the door before we open it to them. But those same peepholes can easily be used against us. A simple gadget called a peephole reverser, also known as a tactical door viewer, was developed by law enforcement, giving them a look at activity inside a dwelling without alerting anyone inside.

Laser Microphone

(images via: lucid science)

It’s all too easy to listen to someone’s conversation using little more than a laser beam. Laser microphones use a laser beam to measure the vibration of sounds on a surface, usually glass windows, transmitting those sounds back to the listener’s receiver. DIY instructions abound on the internet, including this tutorial by Lucid Science.

Spy Flies

(image via: washington post)

Robotic-looking dragonflies and other insects have been spotted at political events and protests in Washington and New York, hovering over antiwar rallies. While no government agency admitted to deploying the robots, the technology has been in the works for decades and some entities have admitted that they’re currently trying to perfect it. Because replicating the flying motions of a live insect tends to be inefficient, researchers may soon turn to flying cyborg insects like the beetles and roaches instead.

Micro-Cameras Based on Maple Seeds

(image via: cnet)

Is that a maple seed spinning down toward the ground – or a covert micro-camera designed by Lockheed Martin? The defense contractor is developing a tiny camera based on the seed, which will have two tiny jet boosters to help steer it and keep it in the air. Lockheed plans to disperse them over war zones to monitor conditions, find survivors in disaster areas and even detect chemical and biological weapons.

Pen-Sized Document Scanner

(image via: pcmag)

Need to scan a document on the sly, as quickly as possible? The Docupen by Planon is hardly bigger than a regular writing instrument, but pass it over a sheet of paper or a photograph and it will capture and store the documents, ready to be uploaded via USB or Bluetooth to any computer.

Wireless Camera Disguised as a Screw

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It’s hard not to be paranoid about amazingly tiny hidden cameras when they’re as stealthy as this. A tiny wireless camera is hidden in the head of a screw, transmitting live video to your television or recording it on a VCR. All it needs to operate is a single 9 volt battery.  These cameras are inexpensive and widely available.

Self-Destructiong RAM

(image via: engadget)

The last thing a spy wants is to have his or her own data stolen. Going beyond encryption and biometrics, a new form of magnetoresistive RAM will render data unusable if the chip is compromised. Philips is currently developing the technology, which wraps the chips in two layers of soft magnetic foil, one of which is magnetized. The other layer acts as a “keeper” by gathering flux from a permanent magnet and maintaining a closed loop around the data. If a thief rips open the foil, the magnets erase the data.