You may not realize it but surveillance cameras exist almost everywhere. They are used on traffic signals, at intersections, inside stores, and in most businesses. In fact, if you are in public you may find yourself being recorded right now. However, those hidden cameras can be hardly seen. Because technology has improved and components have miniaturized so much in recent years, it has resulted in incredibly tiny cameras that are easily hidden or concealed. Some of these so-called ‘spy cameras’ can be purchased for as little as 1400 inr($20) or less and can be installed virtually anywhere. A quick online browse of spy cameras is enlightening and it’s clear to see how easily you could be recorded by a hidden camera without your knowledge.

The question is, how can one detect and protect themselves from hidden cameras in hotel rooms, changing rooms and other private places?

Your first line of defense against hidden cameras is awareness. When you find yourself in a hotel room or other private area take a good look around.


Do a physical search of the premises. This involves a slow, meticulous sweep of the room or building you suspect is wired.

  • Look around for anything that seems different or out of place, such as flower arrangements, pictures on the wall out of level or in unusual areas, or lampshades that don’t look normal. Check for smoke detectors you didn’t add, look for a speaker that might have a camera in it.

  • Look inside flower pots, light fixtures, and other places where a microphone transmitter can easily be hidden.

  • Look under couch cushions, table tops, and shelves. Underneath shelves and table tops are excellent places for miniature cameras.

  • Look for wires that do not seem to go anywhere, such as an appliance or other familiar device. “Hardwired” (that is, not wireless) spy equipment is less common with modern technology, but is still used for permanent surveillance in commercial businesses for loss prevention.


Listen as you walk the entire room quietly. Many small, motion-sensitive cameras make an almost inaudible click or buzz when they operate.

The next check to perform is to turn off the room lights and look for small red or green LED lights that some hidden cameras may be equipped with. Pay special attention to cracks or small holes in the walls that may conceal a camera. These quick checks may reveal a hastily hidden camera but for more thorough searches, there are better options including using your mobile phone or using a professional grade hidden camera detector.


Using your mobile phone to detect a hidden camera


Although not foolproof, using your mobile phone to detect hidden cameras can be effective. There are free apps that can be downloaded to help facilitate this method or it can be performed manually. To do so, turn off the room lights and turn on your phone’s camera. Although invisible to the human eye your phone camera can detect infrared lights often used by hidden cameras. They will show up as a bright pinpoint of light on your camera and indicate where a camera may be hidden. A second technique using the phone is to turn on the camera flash and shine it around a darkened room. Any camera lens may twinkle or flash with a reflection and can be detected.

iPhones costs $4.99, but the reviews from many that have purchased it are not great.

Android users can try a free app called Glint Finder, which also has mixed reviews. When I tested it out, I wasn’t convinced it would be all that accurate in a real-world situation.

The problem with both of these apps is they require you to be fairly close (with three or four feet) to the hidden device and the angle of your smartphone and the angle of the hidden camera lens has to be the same in order to detect any reflections.

A better approach is to use a specialty handheld detection device that uses a series of flashing red LEDs around a lens that you hold up to your eye. They generate what are described as “sparkling halos” or bright red dots when they detect what appears to be a camera lens, so you can investigate further.

Just like with the apps, you need to move slowly and look very closely at each area that you’re examining, but they can do so from a much farther distance (10-15 feet).

A dimly-lit room also gave us the best detection results.

The devices we tested ranged from under $20 to over $300 and the difference in detection ability wasn’t much different, so there’s no need to spend the big bucks. They were all substantially better at detection than any of the apps and can be found all over Amazon (be sure to check the reviews).

Before you spend any money, we found that the DIY version of reflective detection worked just about as well:

• Grab a paper towel roll and a flashlight and hold the roll up to one eye and close the other.

• In a darkened room, turn on the flashlight and place it at eye level next to the tube and slowly scan the room for the telltale white reflection.

We found every camera in our test room with this method, so give it a try at home yourself.

Mobile phones also have the ability to pick up an electromagnetic field given off by electrical devices. This third technique involves making a call on your phone using the speakerphone feature then sweeping the room with the phone and listening for any static or clicking noise on the call. This interference can be the result of a camera transmitter and can help you detect a camera location.


Using a professional hidden camera detector


These devices can be much more effective than a mobile phone and generally work in one of two ways. First, they employ one or more flashing LED lights which can be used to detect even the tiniest reflection from a hidden camera. By slowly moving the device around the room using different angles, hidden camera lenses can be located and dealt with properly.

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The second method employed by professional hidden camera detectors is picking up the RF (radio frequencies) that are emitted by wireless hidden cameras. This is an essential technique used to detect the latest spy camera technologies that don’t require wires. When activated, the detector will beep or vibrate when it finds a signal. By sweeping the room and carefully zeroing in on the signal, a hidden camera can often be found.

These detectors are small enough to travel with and are extremely useful to ensure that you aren’t being recorded without your consent in private areas. They make a great addition to one’s travel gear and a hotel room or bathroom can be swept and verified as safe in a matter of minutes. In the case that you do find a hidden camera, it is better not to disturb it and instead alert the authorities or local police.

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