One of the more intriguing scenes in “Chinatown” has Jack Nicolson’s character using a couple of cheap dime store watches to discover how long one of the few decent characters in the convoluted drama, set in the Los Angeles of the 1930s, might have spent brooding on the beach. The answer was all night and the method to prove it was simple, as the target of surveillance inadvertently rolled over the watches when he drove away.
Technology is way more advanced, today, so anyone from anxious parents, to suspicious spouses and curious insurance companies have more sophisticated ways like to learn the specifics of a vehicle’s recent history.
For example, gadget maker Hammacher Schlemmer is offering a device that provides the kind of information long prized by snoops of all kinds. Moreover, in keeping with the spirit of the times, it can be done rather economically.
Extending its 161-year history of offering “the best, the only, and the unexpected,” Hammacher Schlemmer has introduced the “Driving Activity Reporter,” a covert device that attaches to a vehicle and records a detailed report of places, routes, and speeds traveled.
“The Driving Activity Reporter allows parents to monitor where a young driver has taken the car and his or her driving habits,” explained Hammacher Schlemmer’s General Manager Fred Berns.
Berns said the device is about the size of the pack of gum and is equipped with a neodymium magnet, clearing the way for “clandestine storage in a glove compartment, underneath a seat or against any metal surface on the interior or exterior of the automobile.” Of course, anyone who has ever watched a movie about spies or read a thriller knows such devices are usually attached underneath the rear bumper or perhaps a wheel well. In a motoring culture where inattention is standard practice, they are virtually undetectable.
“The Driving Activity Reporter’s integrated 16 channel GPS receiver collects transmissions from 24 Department of Defense satellites to track the movements of the car in which it is hidden,” Berns added.
Is this a great country, or what?