The Coolest Real World Spy Gadgets
By K. Thor Jensen, PC Magazine, 1 October 2016.
By K. Thor Jensen, PC Magazine, 1 October 2016.
One of the coolest things about a new James Bond movie is seeing the sweet-ass toys that Q and crew give 007. The life of a secret agent can depend on the tools of their trade, and it's a known fact that the espionage world has been on the cutting edge of technology for quite some time.
As civilians, we don't have access to the good stuff our government is hiding. But the private sector is working hard to make our spy daydreams a reality. If you've got cash to spend, you can outfit yourself with all the coolest non-lethal weaponry, surveillance tools, and other amazing stuff you need to have.
Grab your black ops budget and come with us on a tour of incredible spy gizmos that you can buy in the real world.
1. Seek Thermal Camera
It's kind of absurd that each and every one of us is basically carrying around a supercomputer with access to all of the world's knowledge in our pocket and we mostly use it for Pokemon Go. A cell phone can be a vital asset in the field, and there are several pretty badass gadgets you can attach to your mobile to help you out. One of the neatest we've seen is Seek's lineup of thermal cameras, which give you heat displays anywhere you point them.
Thermal imaging can pick out heat sources like humans, guard dogs, or overheated servers even through walls and in the dark. The standalone US$459 Reveal XR sports a 300-lumen LED spotlight, 20-degree field of view, and 206-by-156-resolution display. It can detect heat up to 900 feet away and stores images on a MicroSD card. The US$249 Seek Compact (video above) plugs into an existing smartphone for easy thermal readings; there is also a Compact Pro (US$499) and Compact XR (US$299) with added features.
2. Gas Injection Knife
A spy weapon is never what it appears to be. Pens are guns, guns are lasers, lasers are pens somehow. Chalk it up to the art of deception. But if you're involved in a life-or-death struggle with a particularly tenacious henchman, you're going to want something with advanced stopping power. Enter the WASP Gas Injection Knife.
You might have seen this puppy being demonstrated on some hapless watermelons (above). How it works is simple: the handle contains a cartridge of pressurized carbon dioxide, and a special trigger vents it through a channel in the blade. When you stab something with it - like, say, a shark - and release the gas, it causes an internal explosion, massively damaging the target. Needless to say, this is gross but impressive.
3. Net Gun
Sometimes you're not going to be able to stab a target with a knife that makes their guts explode. When you have to take somebody alive, do it in style with a gun that shoots nets. The Net Gun air-charged capture tool uses compressed air to launch a 52-square-foot nylon net that is almost impossible to rip with bare hands. The gun blasts from a range of 50 feet, meaning with a clear shot you can easily take down a fleeing suspect or pizza delivery guy.
The US$847 Standard Net Gun Package comes with four nets, but it's not like you're going to sit down and cram them back into their cartridges after you capture somebody, so you might want to order more. Who knows how many times you'll be able to deploy this puppy?
4. Cell Jammer
Disrupting communications is essential for carrying out the kind of chaos that covert operations demand, and thankfully in our increasingly wireless world much of that communication is done over cell phone. We've been able to interfere with those signals for some time, but there are hand-held devices that let you blow out 4G / 3G / 2G / GPS transmissions in your vicinity with the press of a button.
It's illegal to own one of these things in the United States or the European Union (just ask this guy), but a post-Brexit James Bond doesn't care too much about that. And if somebody spots you with one, who are they gonna call? Nobody, because you're jamming their cell phone. Check and mate.
5. Electric Shock Briefcase
A major part of spycraft is transporting documents, and you can't just use an ordinary suitcase for sensitive material. If you're the paranoid type, this briefcase might be just what the doctor ordered. At the press of a button, it can emit an instant 100KV electric shock from every one of its surfaces, incapacitating anybody who is trying to mess with it. This is coupled with a loud, piercing alarm allowing you to locate your case quickly.
If you're not able to press the button, don't stress - you can also set it so that if the case is too far away from you and somebody tries to open it, the shock is released and a loud alarm sounds. To really add insult to injury, you can also have the manufacturer customize it to release tear gas and/or dye explosions when the case is opened.
6. Photonic Disruptor
If there's one high-tech weapon we've always wanted, it's a laser. They're always burning through doors or threatening to cut people in half as part of complicated death traps, and they just look so damn cool. Amazingly, laser weaponry has advanced to a point where it's being used for law enforcement, and even though you're not likely to cleanly sever an assailant's arm with one, you can still employ it for self-defense.
The Photonic Disruptor from Wicked Lasers is intended for "military and law enforcement use only," but that could mean anything, right? Its beam is designed to be shined right into the eyes of your target, disrupting their vision and causing dizziness without permanent eye damage. Because if there's one thing secret agents try to avoid, it's permanent eye damage.
7. Wallet Lockpick
When you're a spy, you often have to go places you're not allowed to go. And often there's a lock in your way. Carrying a lockpick kit is key (no pun intended) to bypassing pesky locks, but they're easy to spot. The minds at Shomer-Tec are all about advancing the locksmith's art, and its stealthiest product can hide unseen in your wallet until it's needed.
The Access Card is a stainless steel sheet with a quartet of lockpicks punched out of it, ready to be snapped out, used, and discarded. It comes with a feeler pick, ball pick, diamond pick and a hybrid, as well as a tension wrench. The last one can also be used as a handcuff pick and shim. Although the picks are thin, they're remarkably durable under stress.
8. Throwing Card Knives
Practicality isn't really a concern for most cool spy gadgets. Remember that our covert agencies were the ones who thought about murdering Fidel Castro with LSD and itching powder. They go big or go home. So if you're thinking about infiltrating a casino (and, really, who isn't?), pick up a set of these insanely badass throwing card knives for when you have to make a dramatic exit.
Although the edges of these four playing cards - all aces, of course - aren't razor-sharp, they're still fine enough to penetrate soft objects if flung with enough force. Maybe you should practice on some watermelons first.
Top gif image: The Net Gun. Credit: Image created from Travis Peters/YouTube.
[Source: PC Magazine. Edited. Top image added.]