|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 suspicion.
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.