What are the Different Types of Remote Spy Camera?

Maggie J. Hall

Commonly used as surveillance equipment, the various types of remote spy cameras include pinhole, disguised and night vision cameras. The advancement in miniature technology provides individuals with the opportunity to use various devices that send audio and visual (AV) information directly to a television (TV) and a videocassette recorder (VCR), computer or self-contained memory card. As modern spy gear uses a variety of sources of power, the devices are extremely versatile concerning placement.

A SD card.
A SD card.

At a mere 1 cubic inch (16.38 cubic centimeters) in size, inexpensive pinhole cameras with built-in microphones are widely employed by many people. The miniature cameras hide easily amongst everyday objects or lie inconspicuously concealed within another item. Each camera plugs into a wall outlet or utilizes battery power.

Jewelry can be a disguise for a remote spy camera.
Jewelry can be a disguise for a remote spy camera.

Each wireless, remote spy camera generally comes equipped with a small antenna that transmits AV signals, in black and white or color, to a remote receiver, which plugs into a TV and VCR or a personal computer for live viewing. Individuals also record camera signals onto either device for later viewing. The receiver can generally detect signals from one room to the next, but signal strengths vary with the quality of the equipment. Various sized receivers can accommodate anywhere from one to eight pinhole cameras, and the receiver displays each camera’s information on a different channel.

Almost any object imaginable can be a disguise for a remote spy camera. Manufacturers place the spy equipment in anything from a ballpoint pen to a backyard bird feeder. These devices are typically battery operated and many contain motion detectors that initiate the camera’s function. These self-contained, hidden cameras typically record information onto a removable secure digital (SD) card. The SD card is inserted into a computer or into a SD card reader that is attached to a computer to review the recorded images.

A special remote spy camera comes equipped with infrared light emitting diodes (LEDs) for day or night surveillance. Manufacturers design miniature remote spy cameras with night vision capabilities that measure less than one cubic inch (16.38 cubic centimeters) in size. In addition to having the ability to see in the dark, some of these versatile units are waterproof, allowing outdoor use. The wide-angle view of miniature cameras provides for surveillance of an entire room, and some have an unobstructed outdoor viewing range of up to 1000 feet (305 meters).

Comparable in size to pinhole cameras, these miniature night vision cameras camouflage easily within numerous environments. Many are battery powered, but certain models may be hardwired into place. The price for a remote spy camera varies greatly depending on the quality and extent of the system.

An individual may choose to use a remote spy camera to observe their child's caretaker.
An individual may choose to use a remote spy camera to observe their child's caretaker.

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Discussion Comments


You hear about people using these remote spy cameras to watch their babysitters. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Of course, I don't want anyone to hurt children, but is it fair to watch a person when he or she doesn't know you are watching? If you don't trust them then maybe you should find other people to babysit.


@Drentel - You might as well get used to spy cameras whether they are the small ones or the giant ones attached to satellites. What we are used to thinking of as private is changing. However, I think the cameras are harmless for the most part and in some instances they can be beneficial.

I know people who use the small remote spy cameras to monitor their homes when they are away. And of course, young people like to use them to record practical jokes they play on their friends. I know this can go too far, but for the most part the cameras are harmless.


There was a time when these really small remote spy cameras like the ones that can be placed in a pen were just something you saw in movies about secret agents and spies. Now they are all over the place and most people can afford them if they really want them.

Unfortunately, the laws that are supposed to protect our privacy have not been updated quickly enough to keep up with the changing technology. It used to be that you worried about the government spying on you, but now almost anyone can get the devices he or she needs to keep an eye on you and violate your privacy.

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