RC surveillance mosquitos and robotic hummingbirds as security cameras may not be perfect tech yet, but they're on the rise and constantly improving, with some available to commercial markets for testing. And even looking a few steps below advanced insect drones you'll find plenty of sweet gear up for overnight shipping to the everyday Bonds and MacGyvers amongst us. Here are my picks for the Top 11 Tools for the Everyday Spy.
(Note: All items' prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.)
Cutaway Practice Padlock & Lock Pick Set $32. You can pick your nose, but you can't pick your lock. At least not until you've had proper training from Ehdching's cutaway practice padlock and lock pick set. This complete DIY package includes a transparent cutaway padlock with open chambers on all moving parts that provide a full view of its inner workings when a key is inserted, as well as when you try your luck with the lock pick set.
Lockpick School in a Box $100. Expand your knowledge beyond busting into 10th graders' lockers to get your vodka and 20 sack back with this complete school for the desktop. It's intended to help the beginning locksmith hone the skills needed to master pin-tumbler lock picking, and the box includes 5 lock cylinders that progress in difficulty from a single pin set in place to a full number of pin sets. Also includes a key, 4 picks, 1 tension tool, and an instruction manual, all packed in a wooden stand.
Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things $10. Sneaky and shady basically mean the same thing, but for some reason sneakiness manages to carry an air of charm, whereas shadiness makes everyone want to steer clear of the jackhole who will short you on his portion of the bill and try to fondle your wife. I bring this up to clarify that when Cy Tymony calls his book Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things, he means "sneaky" in the most charming, harmless sense of the word. His collection of 80 tips, tricks, and solutions to common problems will teach you how to do things like identify a fake $20 bill, generate battery power with household items, and create your own home security system.
Reverse Peephole Viewer $44. Now here's something that should be illegal, but is instead available with free shipping on Amazon. The reverse peephole viewer, used appropriately by law enforcement personnel and inappropriately by 99% of all others who get their hands on one, enables real-time viewing of the activities masked by closed doors. Provided the door has a peephole. Which I'm sure the ones covering all my favorite Victoria's Secret Angels' hotel rooms do.
Covert Cabinets $190. Cabinet wall shelves designed to inconspicuously store valuables and home protection equipment in the open and at hand. The pictured unit has space for 1 to 2 handguns, and includes 1 x magnetic safety lock, 1 x magnetic key, and 1 x customize-able foam insert.
DIY Hidden Door Hinge System $140. If you've got the handymanliness and desire, save yourself a wad of cash by installing your very own secret passage to the Bat Cave. This Hidden Door System hardware attaches to a bookshelf (not included, you gotta build that too) to create a 24" to 36" inswinging or outswinging door. Instructions--specs and diagrams--for both building the door and attaching the hinging system are included with the hardware package.
Bushnell Digital Night Vision Monocular $208 to $240. This after-dark locating and sightseeing device has built-in photo and video recording capabilities, plus a 30-, 40-, or 50mm multi-coated glass objective lens and an infrared illuminator with multiple settings. The perks facilitate edge-to-edge resolution and produce images so clear that had I owned Bushnell's monocular in college, I could have proven to my friend Cornelius that I really did stumble upon some sort of naked sorority pledge initiation ceremony in the woods that one night.
The Spy Bolt $25 to $40. Made from real 3/4" and 1" machine bolts, Spy Bolts are a take on the old KGB "dead drop" hollow bolt the Soviets used during the Cold War. They have an O-ring seal to block moisture and water infiltration, plus reverse threading on the head for additional security. They come in 2 sizes, one with an interior storage capacity of 2.8 cubic inches, and the other 4.4 cubic inches. The larger bolt also comes with 2 even smaller, 4mL glass storage tubes to fit neatly inside it.
Kapture Audio-Recording Wristband $99. Kapture could easily both save and ruin my life. Because the snazzy wristband doesn't just record voices and conversations, it records them all the time. It runs continuously, collecting audio in 60-second buffered loops, but saves a file only when the wearer commands it by tapping the device.
Military Grade USB Drive $60 to $170. The Apricorn Aegis Secure Key Flash Drive boasts military grade full-disk AES 256-bit CBC hardware encryption, further protected by a 7- to 15-digit PIN-activated alphanumeric keypad. That means it can safely store top secrets. Sensitive information for those with high levels of clearance. Porn. The virtually impenetrable USB drive comes in sizes 4, 8, 16, and 32 GB, and requires no software or drivers for use.
Robot Dragonfly $119 to $599. (Not shipping at printing, but maker TechJet has a waitlist available.) If it looks like an insect and flies like an insect and is virtually indecipherable from an insect to the human eye while in motion, it must be a palm-sized robot dragonfly with spying, advanced gaming, R&D, and security capabilities.
Got the insect drone bug? Read more about this growing field of research and development here.