Camera technology and short-term rentals like Airbnb's have been booming in the past decade and while it has made our lives so much richer and safer, there have been some nefarious actors as usual. One such menace is hidden cameras.
Most cameras these days use infrared (IR) light to see in the dark or a low-light environment. The human eyes can’t detect IR light. However, depending on the model the sensor on your smartphone camera should be able to see it. Here's how you can test and confirm this in a more practical manner at your own home using just your smartphone.
Find a remote for your TV or air conditioner. Basically any remote with an IR blaster in the front will work. Now try to make your room as dark as possible, put on all the curtains and switch off all lights. This will trigger the IR functionality on the hidden camera. Then open up your phone's camera and point it towards the remote and look for a small light. It will most probably be pink and/or purple in colour and you will be able to see it either steady or flashing. In case you aren't able to see any light, try switching the cameras of your smartphone from the front to the rear camera or vice versa.
Another simple trick is to use the flashlight function on your phone. Some hidden cameras have a small red or green LED light that can be used to indicate when the camera is on. Use your phone's flashlight function to scan the room and look for any small lights that may indicate a hidden camera.
You can also observe radio frequency signals. Some hidden cameras emit radio frequency (RF) signals, which can be picked up by an RF detector app on your phone. These apps can detect the presence of hidden cameras by identifying the RF signals emitted by the camera. Some popular RF detector apps include RF Detector, Fing Hidden Camera Detector, and Glint Finder.
For more tech-savvy people, here is what you can do. Create a hotspot on your phone that is identical to the wifi at the Airbnb/rental place, then remove power to their router. Watch to see what connects (or better - if possible - see what TRIES to connect).
It's important to note that these methods may not be 100% accurate and some hidden cameras can be well-concealed and difficult to detect. Additionally, it's always good to be aware of your surroundings, and if you suspect that there is a hidden camera in a place, you should report it to the authorities.
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