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Warning: My sweater is spying on you

What looks like a frumpy old cardigan might be hiding cutting-edge consumer spy tech. Thanko's button cam lets you record sound, images, and video on the sly.


Break out that old cardigan and turn it into an intelligence-gathering machine with Thanko's latest spycam.

The Tokyo gadget maker gets sneaky with its Button-style Videocamera 2. From the outside, it looks like an innocuous button, but it's secretly recording sound, images, and video of whatever's in front of you.

The device is just under 3 inches long and 1 inch thick, weighing 20 grams (less than an ounce). The lithium ion battery can power the button for about 50 minutes on a full charge, which takes two hours.

It's not discrete enough to conceal under a dress shirt, so forget recording your boss if you're in shirtsleeves. But a bulky blazer or sweater with buttons will easily conceal the cam.

It can snap 1,280x1,024-pixel images and record video at up to 30 fps, with the closest in-focus point at about 20 inches away. The intelligence is stored on a microSD card of up to 16GB. You can also download via USB cable. That's an improvement on an earlier Thanko button-cam, which could only store up to 4GB.

Unfortunately, it's not exactly spy-grade. One obvious drawback is that you have to activate it by pushing a record button on its back side. That might be hard to do without attracting attention. Maybe feign a chest/boob scratch?

Also, it has LEDs on the back side that light up when the power's on and the device is recording. Those might blow your cover in a dark environment.

Still, it only costs about $55 in Japan, and comes with six interchangeable buttons in black, white, and pearl. Not bad for consumer spy tech. (Mister Rogers cardigan not included.)