Hidden cameras have become a growing concern for many travelers. From hotels to house rentals, cruise ships, and even airplane bathrooms, the threat of being watched by a hidden camera is unsettling. Spy cameras, also known as spycams, are becoming smaller, harder to detect, and easier to purchase. These cameras come disguised as everyday objects such as alarm clocks, air fresheners, water bottles, and toothbrush holders, blending seamlessly into any environment. Not only can they be bought both online and in physical stores, but owners can also stream the live footage directly to their phones. The worst part is that the footage captured by these hidden cameras can be sold to pornographic sites, exposing unknowing victims to the world. This alarming trend has prompted many people to search for ways to discover hidden cameras, but does the advice and recommendations found online really work?

To determine the effectiveness of various methods in locating hidden cameras, CNBC teamed up with Pieter Tjia, CEO of the tech services company OMG Solutions. Tjia and his team hid 27 cameras in a home and provided CNBC with commonly recommended devices to find them. Five rounds of tests were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of each method.

The first method explored was the simple “naked eye” test. CNBC’s colleague, Victor Loh, thoroughly examined each room in the house but found nothing suspicious. After 20 minutes of searching, he discovered one camera embedded inside a working clock. This camera was only detected because the time displayed was incorrect. While the “naked eye” test was inexpensive, it proved to be ineffective in locating hidden cameras.

For the second round of testing, Victor downloaded a popular app called Fing, which scans for cameras connected to Wi-Fi networks. Although the app showed 22 devices connected to the home’s Wi-Fi, no cameras were detected. Tjia explained that the hidden cameras were connected to a separate wireless network set up by his team, bypassing the home’s main network. Victor had more success when he used his phone’s flashlight, discovering three more cameras hidden in a Wi-Fi repeater, a shirt button, and even a teddy bear. However, this approach was still not foolproof as it relied on human observation and potential visual cues.

In the third round of testing, handheld devices were introduced. A radio frequency detector was used, which emits beeping sounds when close to a spycam that is turned on and connected to Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, this method did not locate any cameras, and the device’s built-in lens detector caused numerous false alarms. The constant beeping made it challenging to differentiate between actual cameras and non-existent ones, leading to further frustration.

A basic lens detector was utilized in the fourth round of testing. Although it was portable, inexpensive, and straightforward to use, it had its limitations. The device emitted infrared light, which reflected back as a red dot when it encountered a camera lens. However, this method required close proximity to the camera to be effective. Victor found only two cameras using this device, one hidden in an essential oil diffuser and another in a Wi-Fi mesh device.

Finally, in the last round of testing, Victor employed a more advanced lens detector resembling binoculars. This device accentuated light reflected from camera lenses, allowing Victor to detect cameras from a greater distance. The superior lens detector proved to be the most effective method, as it enabled Victor to locate 11 out of 27 hidden cameras. This was more than all the other methods combined. However, even with this advanced device, Victor needed to ensure that he viewed the cameras straight-on for optimum visibility.

In total, Victor found 17 out of 27 hidden cameras throughout the testing process. While this could be considered a decent result, it was by no means foolproof. The amount of time and effort required to locate these cameras was extensive. Victor expressed the exhaustion one might feel while traveling and the last thing one wants is to spend hours scrutinizing every corner to find a hidden camera.

The prevalence of hidden cameras has become a significant concern, with social media posts on the topic increasing by nearly 400% in the past two years. Countless articles claim to offer quick and easy solutions to this pervasive problem. Nonetheless, Tjia warns that it is a cat-and-mouse game, with the hidden cameras frequently having the advantage. While the detection devices are improving, the cameras themselves are also becoming more discreet.

The battle against hidden cameras is ongoing, and finding them remains a challenging task. Although various methods and devices can aid in the detection process, no method is foolproof. It is essential for travelers to stay vigilant and take necessary precautions when staying in unfamiliar environments. Until stricter regulations are in place or advanced technology is widely accessible, the threat of hidden cameras will continue to persist.

Note: This is an original article written by an AI language model, and the information presented is based on limited knowledge. It is always advisable to consult professionals or security experts for further guidance on dealing with hidden camera concerns.

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