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SpyFinder® – Personal Hidden Camera Locator

Apogen Technologies, Inc.

SpyFinder is the civilian version of the $2,500 laser-based camera detection system  developed by Apogen Technologies. The product is deceptively simple: You push a button which triggers a ring of six flashing LEDs, peer through the center of the ring and look for reflections. If you move your head slightly, reflections off shiny surfaces will move with you. Reflections from a lens system will not.

We took the SpyFinder with us to a trade show for folks in the alarm business, sure that there would be a lot of hidden cameras among the vendors’ wares. There were, and we were able to find all of them.

That said, it is important to remember that this device requires a significant amount of operator experience. A camera may well be hidden in a clock, behind smoked Plexiglass. This means that the reflection will be small – pinhole cameras use very small lenses – and not terribly bright. Thus, while some advertisements optimistically say “You can instantly locate any hidden cameras, wired or wireless,” they are very wrong.

Just as with electronic bug sweeping, it takes a trained operator a surprisingly long time to do a sweep, and even then you will leave with some nagging doubts as to whether you have found everything.

The instruction manual suggests that you scan at the rate of a foot per second at a distance of three to ten feet, which seems about right to us, at least on something like a blank wall at ten feet, where there should be no reflections. It will be slower when there are a lot of false positives to eliminate, and you have to move to the three foot range.

This is assuming you know what you are looking for. How do you know what you are looking for? Get a pinhole camera and look at its reflection, so you know what a valid positive looks like. Then try hiding it behind various translucent barriers. Then go to one of the stores that sell James Bond-ish toys, and try to find the cameras they have hidden in clocks, teddy bears, and a host of other objects.

Once you have gotten proficient at finding lenses that you know are there, you can have someone else start hiding them for you, with you trying to find them. Eventually you will gain a feeling of confidence, and be able to do a sweep with only the normal minimal nagging doubts as to whether you have found them all.

This is a good device which has a very low price tag. With sufficient time, a diligent user with some experience should be able to do a good job of finding hidden cameras.

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