The 7 Best Spy Glasses
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Whether sought out for cloak-and-dagger purposes or simply as a neat new gadget to enjoy, this diverse list of spy glasses is sure to hold something that'll catch your eye. Paired well with a smartwatch and a martini (shaken, not stirred), these pieces of eyewear range from simple toys with reflective lenses to recording devices that are truly Bond-worthy. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best spy glass on Amazon.
Spy Glasses? Really?
There was a time when the thought of recording everything you see was something limited to James Bond movies and science fiction.
There was a time when the thought of recording everything you see was something limited to James Bond movies and science fiction. After all, cameras were so big and bulky, how would you strap one to your head, much less do so inconspicuously?
Nowadays, however, things are completely different. Cameras are now tiny and ubiquitous — we have them in our phones, in our watches, and even strapped to our dogs. It's become second nature to record every moment of our lives and then share it via social media.
Still, spy glasses have never quite caught on like you'd think they might. Google Glass is about as close as we've come to a popular version of spy glasses, and it hardly set the world on fire.
Why is that? There are a variety of reasons why people are hesitant to add another camera to their wardrobe — and a big one is concerns over privacy. It just feels sleazy to record everything you see, especially if the other person doesn't know they're being monitored.
Also, trying to record everything you see can be distracting, which is why it's illegal in many places to wear devices like Google Glass while driving. That can limit their effectiveness as spy gear as well, as it's difficult to seem nonchalant when you're struggling to take in your surroundings.
Still, it's unlikely that we've seen the last attempt to introduce something like spy glasses into mainstream acceptance. Many people are becoming more comfortable with sacrificing privacy in order to share even the most mundane aspects of their lives, so anything that makes that easier will likely succeed.
Which is good, because the world is running dangerously low on pictures of food.
Benefits of Spy Glasses
Chances are, you're never going to be called on to scope out a top-secret nuclear facility that the Russians are building, so do you really need a pair of spy glasses?
The answer is...no, probably not. That said, they offer a wide range of benefits, so while they may not be necessary, they can definitely be convenient.
They'll allow you to talk while recording, and you can be sure that your audience gets the best visuals possible — in fact, they'll see exactly what you see.
One big advantage they offer is the ability to document everything that happens to you. This can come in handy if you're often in dangerous places, or in situations where you might expect to have your version of events challenged. Police officers and security personnel should consider wearing them, especially if body cams aren't available, as they can help clear your name if a situation gets out of hand.
They can make family vacations and other events easier to film as well. If you've ever tried to film a kid's party, then you know how valuable it is to have both hands free. With a pair of spy glasses, you can document every moment while still being able to hold a baby or shield your body from kicks to tender areas.
Streamers should consider a pair as well, especially if their stream involves lots of activity. They'll allow you to talk while recording, and you can be sure that your audience gets the best visuals possible — in fact, they'll see exactly what you see.
And yes, they can help you surreptitiously record things. Since they're fairly unobtrusive, you can capture people in their natural state, as they won't filter their behavior due to the knowledge they're being filmed.
Don't expect them to replace regular cameras anytime soon, but for some people, a pair of spy glasses can make a useful addition to their recording arsenal. If nothing else, they can let you pretend to be a high-level espionage agent — or at least a high-tech peeping tom.
Is Spying Legal?
If you're considering buying a pair of spy glasses, then you've probably already got a use for them in mind, whether to keep an eye on your employees or to catch your spouse in a lie.
But did you ever stop to think about whether your plan was legal?
In many places, it's against the law to record someone without their knowledge. The rules are relaxed somewhat in public places, as it's believed that people should reasonably expect their conduct in those places to be public knowledge. However, it's still usually impermissible to record conversations, regardless of where they occur.
The laws change somewhat once you're behind closed doors or on private property, however.
The laws change somewhat once you're behind closed doors or on private property, however. It's still verboten to tape conversations without permission (especially phone calls), but in many places, it's also illegal to take pictures or record video. This may not matter to you if you're using the footage for personal use (say, to just get your spouse to admit to being unfaithful), but if you plan to use it for something else, such as evidence in a trial, then know that it's likely to be thrown out — and could even land you in hot water.
Also (and hopefully this goes without saying), it's always illegal to secretly record in private places like showers and locker rooms. Even if the camera is attached to your eyewear, it's still against the law — and that includes situations that you're personally involved in, like consensual sexual activities. Unless you have consent to film everything, keep your camera turned off.
One gray area that's still being actively resolved in the courts is your ability to film police officers. It's generally believed that it's acceptable to do so — but that might not stop you from getting arrested for doing it. If you want to play it safe, it's best to stop recording if a cop tells you to, but keep in mind that they can't confiscate your camera.
Ultimately, if you're looking to record your own activities, or you have clear permission from the other people involved, you should be fine. Otherwise, it's best to leave the camera off, because the penalties for unauthorized recording are steep.
Then again, you might be able to make quite a bit of money selling videos from prison...
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