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Say “Cheese!”

Cluckminster has a pretty good memory (along with an uncanny ability to refer to himself in the third person). Still, sometimes there are details that you want a more permanent record of and for that a camera is a spy’s best friend. 

The problem is that some folks get a little bit perturbed when you start taking pictures of their Top Secret hideouts. To solve that problem, spy scientists have developed some ingenious ways to hide cameras from view.

Back in the early days of photography you had to make sure the thing you were photographing would hold still for up to a minute and then you had to have chemicals standing by to develop the picture almost immediately. Not the most convenient setup for a covert operative. Still, in 1861 French inventors created the Automatique De Bertsch, a whole portable darkroom with a camera 1” x 1.5” in size. One of these was auctioned recently for an estimated selling price of over $150,000 Canadian.

Modern camera engineers have hidden tiny cameras in stuffed toys, clock radios, curtain rods, watches, hats – even flower pots. They have even created cameras small enough to be carried by pigeons

One of the most ingenious places modern spies have hidden cameras is in a pair of eye glasses. That way anything the spy looks at is automatically recorded. The tech company Google developed a version of this for home use with their Google Glass project but quickly found that people did not like the idea of being recorded and the devices were banned from movie theatres, locker rooms, classrooms and even banks. The product was eventually discontinued in 2015.

Still, people continue to look for new and innovative ways to record the world around them. In 2010, New York University professor Wafaa Bilal had a camera mount surgically implanted in the back of his skull. He used this to mount a camera that took a picture every minute of what was happening behind him. Talk about eyes in the back of your head! Professor Bilal eventually compiled all of the photos into an art exhibition called the Third I.

So remember, spies could be watching you from almost anywhere. Who knows, there might be a camera in that chicken over there.

Visit Top Secret: License to Spy until September 5, 2016 and see if you can find the 4 hidden cameras in Q’s Lab.​