Channel your inner James Bond with these real-world spy gadgets

Cool spy gadgets
So you’ve decided to give up your ordinary life — the family, the 401(k), the evening searches for meaning in a consumerist world– for a chance to work as a spy. Working in the shadows offers neither glory nor the promise of a comfortable death in a warm bed, but with the right tools, you just might survive to see your next assignment. Here are some of the essential spy gadgets you’ll need for a life of covert escapades. Do bring each of them back in one piece!

Camera pen

cool spy gadgets camera pen

Using a simple but persuasive cover story, you manage to get inside your target’s corporate headquarters/research facility/secret underground lair. It’s your chance to find the truth behind the insidious and far-reaching conspiracy you have been investigating, but how are you to get it on video? Information-gathering is one of the pillars of espionage, but it’s hard to sneak a camera past security. Thankfully, you can hide a camera in any everyday object if you try hard enough, even a small, simple object like a pen. Nobody will take notice of the pen sticking out of your shirt pocket, and no matter your cover story — intrepid reporter, reclusive investor, etc. — chances are it will seem reasonable to have a pen with you. This specific model stores up to 32GB of footage, and you can connect it to a computer via USB.

Amazon

Camera Drone

dji aeroscope launches cool spy gadgets mavic

The best part of the growing popularity of drones is that nobody will find it suspicious that you, a secret agent, are carrying one. For all they know, you’re just a hobbyist looking to take your new toy for a spin. If, in reality, you’re actually hoping to scout out the country estate of some corrupt politician, looking for points of egress before you infiltrate it to steal some documents, a drone will get the job done. We recommend the DJI Mavic Pro — our favorite drone. The Mavic Pro is equipped with a 4K camera and a three-axis gimbal that allows it to remain stable in flight, so any photos or video it captures will be immaculate. The Mavic Pro’s defining feature is that it folds up into a compact package. If you’re hauling around all the other gadgets on this list for your current mission, a drone that takes up little space is key.

Amazon

Night vision goggles

cool spy gadgets night vision goggles

Having scoped out the target’s lair, it’s time to infiltrate. Given the already stringent security, approaching under cover of darkness may be your best bet. You’ll need some way to see in the dark. If you’re working for an agency with a high budget — or if you’re a wealthy, independent operator a la Bruce Wayne (who, while not technically a spy, dabbles in espionage) — you can probably snag yourself a quality set of night vision goggles, which usually cost a couple thousand dollars or more. If you’re spying on a shoestring budget, this night vision monocular should suffice. It’s lightweight, can be adjusted for viewing with either the left or right eye, and has a built-in infrared illuminator for situations where the darkness is particularly stygian.

Armasight

Unshredder — document recovery software

cool spy gadgets shredded documents credit sergiy tryapitsyn
Sergiy Tryapitsyn/123RF

Rifling through a dumpster outside an evil corporation’s headquarters, you find the files you are looking for. The only problem is that someone — presumably an evil intern — has shredded them. Sweating at the thought of spending days reassembling the strands of paper by hand, you realize there is a better way. Unshredder is software that allows users to reconstruct shredded documents on a computer.

Unshredder

Tracking device

cool spy gadgets gps tracker

You’ve managed to follow your target on foot, but now they’re stepping into a vehicle. How can you avoid losing them in the tangled streets of the exotic city you’re in? A small, easily concealed tracking device should do the trick. This particular GPS tracker attaches to a car or other object via magnets, and has an IP66 dustproof/waterproofing rating, meaning it should be dust tight and capable of functioning in inclement weather.

Amazon

Directional microphonecool spy gadgets parabolic mic

You’ve tracked your target to an upscale Italian restaurant. The host guides them to a table. Already sitting there, you’re shocked to see, is a rising star in the U.S. Senate. How curious. You don’t have a reservation, so you can’t get a table next to them. What to do? With a parabolic microphone, which collects sound waves and then focuses them onto a receiver, you can pick up their conversation from a safe distance. This Sound Shark kit, which plugs into a camera or recording device, should suffice for the amateur eavesdropper. Your only challenge will be appearing inconspicuous while aiming it at your target’s conversation.

Sound Shark

Nikon D500 — DSLR camera with a zoom lens

cool spy gadgets nikon d500

You’ve caught your targets, both high-profile subjects, in an incriminating situation. Evidence of the meeting will prove useful. A photograph will suffice, but not just any will do. A powerful DSLR camera will take the high-quality photos you need, and the Nikon D500, which takes immaculately detailed shots, is one of the best around. It’s a bulky camera, and while a tiny model may seem more fitting for a covert operative, if anyone notices you taking photos with a camera like this, they’ll just assume you’re an enthusiast — half of effective spying is blending in, after all. Make sure to outfit your camera with a zoom lens, as you’ll likely need to maintain a safe distance from your target.

Amazon

If spy gadgets seem a bit too tame for you, maybe robotic lawnmowers or luxurious helicopters are more your speed.

Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.
Deals

The best iPhone deals for December 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for December 2018.
Deals

20 holiday gift ideas for your co-workers that they’ll actually want

Your calendar is probably pretty hectic this holiday season, so it's easy to forget about your office holiday party. Given that we see our co-workers even more our own families sometimes, a gift is a very special gesture. If you really want…
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.