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The Evolution of Video Surveillance

Once upon a time, all the hidden cameras from comics, movies and shows like Dick Tracy and Get Smart were fantasy. But today, technology has actually advanced to that level and beyond. Detectives and others that utilize video surveillance can now enjoy far more flexibility, thanks to the advent of computers, smartphones and the Internet.

With video surveillance, there often comes a need for stealth.  Fortunately, surveillance technology continues to advance with the times.  Hiding a camera on one’s person has become far more plausible than ever before.

If you’re a detective,PI, or you just enjoy some old-fashioned espionage from time to time, you’ll probably need to spy on someone and this might involve a bit of surveillance.   Fortunately, video technology has come quite a long way.

Early camcorders

Concealing cameras depends on the job they’re for. Most employers want cameras you can see to deter criminals, but detectives need ones they can keep hidden. You need to catch people acting naturally without knowing they’re being watched.

Size was a problem years ago. The first personal video cameras were like home camcorders or news cameras; they had to belarge enough to store the needed VHS or Betamax cassette, and they usually didn’t have long-range capabilities – not the optimal investigative equipment. Cameras since have gotten smaller, especially once they started using 8 mm cassettes instead of full-size VHS tapes. New features were added like night vision, long-range viewing and camera stability so they won’t shake as much while in position.

Still, cameras large enough that they must be positioned or held are a big detriment to discreet investigations. You might be able to get away with placing a camera on a tripod behind a potted plant or something. And if you’re trying to catch someone in the act through personal contact, forget it.

Hidden cameras

The development of hidden cameras has really helped investigators. They’re often called “nanny cams,” designed with lenses the size of a pinhole and installed in baseball caps, mirrors, plush dolls and other objects where one won’t think to look for a camera. Yes, the cameras seen in places like “Get Smart,” “Mission Impossible” and “I Spy” are very much real today. They have been used in more lighthearted, entertaining ways, such as in “hidden camera” television shows like Ashton Kutcher’s “Punk’d,” but also work perfectly for a PI. Whether you are hired to find who’s stealing the lady of the house’s jewelry or bugging a government office, you can now place that camera right in front of their noses. Or better yet, you can have a camera secretly on your person – make sure the included recording device is also concealed. This way, you can transport and position the camera wherever you need at any time.


One area that has greatly improved is the ability to transmit the surveillance data. Before, using camera tapes meant you had to personally retrieve the tape from the camera and transport it to a playback machine like a VCR – not to mention replacing the tape in order to keep recording.

Digital cameras have eliminated the need for bulky tape, reducing your storage needs, but the basic problem remains; you still need to remove and replace the data card, if not the entire camera if the drive is built in.

Nowadays, you can connect the camera to a monitor and/or external recorder to view the recording in person or store it for later viewing. The development of wireless cameras is a godsend to investigators, completely eliminating the hassle and risk of running cables everywhere. You can now get a full set of mini cameras that link to your monitor(s) and recorder, provided you set up shop ahead of time to observe within the cameras’ range.


For the longest time, your number one limitation was a central location needed to view what you’ve recorded. This location usually had to be in the cameras’ range. But that last remaining limitation is quickly diminishing. You can now get cameras that come with special remote client software that allows you to watch anywhere from a computer. Install the software program on your home computer and link your router to the cameras, and you can then log onto a secure website to view the camera footage. You can even view the camera from a smartphone – just download the app you need to your phone, and you can access your security footage from anywhere.

Like many other facets of society, surveillance is advancing so it can be done anywhere, and through multiple applications.

Author Bio:- Chris Moore is a technology writer with 2MCCTV, where you can find hidden cameras for video surveillance.

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