|A screen from my assessment as a potential spy.|
On a recent trip to New York City with the kid we needed an
activity on a Wednesday – a day that all the big-ticket museums were closed.
We decided to visit Spyscape, a private, for-profit
espionage museum and experience in Midtown Manhattan.
As a fan of the cold war, I give it a hearty thumbs up as it
had a display outlining the infamous Robert Hanson, an FBI agent who spied for the
USSR and Russia. Displays of spy cameras, bugs, lie detectors, dead drops,
elements of deception, and weapons made the time well spent.
Also, the importance of the Enigma encryption machine and
the prototypes it spawned was particularly interesting.
There was even a James Bond exhibit showcasing the
creativity of the films.
There were interactive screens to test one’s ability to
handle spy-type stuff and at the end a “profile” to learn what type of spy career
would suit your skills (I’m best suited to be an agent handler).
This is what the site said about agent handlers:
ACCESS TO HUMAN INTELLIGENCE REMAINS VITAL EVEN IN THE
DIGITAL AGE AND DESPITE THE ADVENT OF EVER MORE SOPHISTICATED SATELLITES,
UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES, AND OTHER PLATFORMS FOR A VARIETY OF ADVANCED
SENSORS. CONSEQUENTLY, AGENT HANDLERS ARE STILL HUGELY IMPORTANT IN RECRUITING
AND MANAGING SOURCES WITH ACCESS TO IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND VITAL CONTEXT.
GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS (US ARMY, RET.)
FORMER COMMANDER OF US CENTRAL COMMAND AND COALITION FORCES
IN BOTH IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, AND FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA
As a father of two I take this as a compliment – like I have
some fatherly skills or something.
To get the most out of the experience, one must turn over an
email address and some amount of personal data (even if the first display is
intended to shock one into acknowledging how much personal data retailers glean
from customers). Whatever. The marketing seems almost quaint compared to other
franchises such as Disney or the NBA. On a recent email from Spyscape, I found the
top 15 spy items for sale on the open market a list worth noting.
15. Polygraph Machine
Polygraph machines aren’t just for the CIA. This
USB-activated polygraph machine allows you to measure and analyze statements in
your own home. The kit includes a pulse finger clip, skin galvanization finger
wraps, and a breathing apparatus. The machine uses artificial intelligence to
simulate an expert polygraph examiner to insure properly executed exams. And -
if you are so inclined - you can even learn techniques to beat polygraph exams!
14. Spy Clock
Keep an eye on the time - and everything else – with this
classic spy clock with its hidden video camera, still camera, and motion and
sound detector. Transfer files straight to your PC with the USB connection at
the back of this stainless steel beauty. The stand is adjustable and the USB
connection is discreetly hidden in the back. Approximately 120 minutes of
recording time at 30FPS with a 720p resolution 8GB microSD memory (up to 32GB).
13. 01 Go Dimensioning Instrument
Size up the dimensions of everything from the president’s
office to your competitor’s smartphone and be out again in seconds with the
data you need. Housed in a high-quality aluminum shell, the 01 Go Dimensioning
Instrument traces curves in 3D and exports the dimensions to CAD software. Log,
convert, and share using your phone easily and intuitively. The silver oxide
battery lasts six months.
12. Easy-Key Wireless, Waterproof Keyboard
If you’re encrypting a message, you can’t afford to make
mistakes. This portable keyboard folds into your pocket or purse so you can
send precise messages on the go. It is smartphone-sized when folded, both
waterproof and spill-proof.
11. Eclipse Charger
You mustn’t get your wires crossed on a black op. And you
won’t with this three-port USB charging station. The eclipse charger offers
safe, high-speed charging up to 7.8 amps to all your devices, plus an unrivaled
cable management system that holds 20 feet of cables with no overlaps or
tangles. Opens via a touch sensor and emits a subtle ambient light to help you
and your cables after dark. The touch sensor and light lets you find your
cables with ease in the dark.
10. Tag Cable
A spy's equipment has always had a certain distinct style.
With the handcrafted leather TAG cable from Native Union, you'll not only have
a sturdy and durable charger, but a stylish one to boot.
9. Bare Electric Paint
This 50ml pot of Electric Paint works like any other
water-based paint, except it conducts electricity allowing you to design your
alarm or surveillance system, then use this paint to spark up your plans, literally.
The paint dries quickly at room temperature and can be removed with soap and
water Nontoxic, solvent-free, and water-soluble.
8. Micro Voice Disguiser
Anonymity is critical in spy operations and SPYSCAPE’s micro
voice disguiser lives up to its billing - record up to 10 seconds of your
voice, then listen to the 'twisted' message. Play it back in slow motion, quick
speed, or anywhere in between. Suitable for children, the micro voice disguiser
can be used for silly games, scary fun, or anything in between.
7. Mossad Pen
Sometimes the difference between getting caught and escaping
has to do with remaining invisible. The Mossad pen uses advanced ink that, once
heated, completely disappears. (A handy blow dryer ought to do the trick.) The
paper can be placed in the fridge to reveal the writing again. Unlike other
invisible ink pens, the pen leaves no visible detection and will not reveal
writing even when exposed to UV rays. Gel ink provides smooth, quality writing
that leaves little detectable indentations.
6. MTA Hair Clips
An agent's best tool is often the tool they have with them.
More than just a tool, the MTA Hair Clip doubles as a screwdriver, wrench,
trolley coin, ruler and cutting edge - all combined in a tiny hair clip. This
multi-functional hair clip serves as a stainless steel toolbox on the go.
5. Faraday Bag
Cell phones emit radio waves that can reveal your location
and credit cards, passports, and driver's licenses also come with embedded
radio frequency identification (RFID) chips that can reveal much more. With the
highest level of military-grade RFID blocking, this Faraday bags’
signal-blocking technology ensures your information stays private. Protects
phones, key rings, and credit cards.
4. Rainworks Invisible Spray
Create clandestine street art, cover your sidewalk with secret
messages, or paint the town with invisible ink. SPYSCAPE’s Rainworks Invisible
Spray won’t show up on dry surfaces, but raindrops will reveal your messages
and artwork. Your secrets disappear again when the sun shines. The spray lasts
for up to four months.
3. Spy Bug Pen
The spy bug pen secret listening device may look like an
ordinary ballpoint pen but that’s where the similarities end. A sound
amplifying device is hidden inside. Simply plug in the earphones to hear what’s
going on around you and collect the conversational intel without arousing
2. Decoder Rings
The Alphabet Shift Ring (left) is a modern version of the
classic Alphabet Shift Ring with a coded cipher inscribed on its surface.
Encode your message by substituting the corresponding letter above each element
of the cipher. With the Secret Decoder Ring (right) you'll make a statement
they'll have to de-code to read. The Secret Decoder Ring rotates, revealing
numbers above each letter. Encode your message by substituting the number above
each letter in your message. Perfect for aspiring spies and sleuths.
1. Rear-View Aviator Sunglasses
Knowing what's happening behind you can mean the difference
between life and death. With these classically styled rear view aviator
sunglasses, you'll never be caught off guard, whether you are checking for a
tail or just wanting to look good.