What You Should Know About Secret Service Earpieces

You might not think too much about the Secret Service. In fact, that's kind of their whole point. They generally stay in the background, keeping an eye on things while remaining alert and ready to spring into action if it looks like anything bad is about to go down.

But if there is one thing people tend to notice about them, it's that Secret Service agents always seem to be fidgeting with their earpieces, which can be somewhat indiscreet with their thick, curly wires that are more reminiscent of an old telephone cord than a state-of-the-art security measure.

Those wires, however, actually serve a pretty important purpose. They run underneath the agent's shirt, connecting the earpiece to a microphone hidden on the Secret Service agent's body. While the location of the microphone may vary, the most common location is underneath the shirtsleeve, which is why Secret Service agents can sometimes be seen touching their faces or whispering into their wrists, according to Slate.

Secret Service agents press their earpieces in order to hear better

On the other end, the earpiece allows the Secret Service to receive orders from the special command center, as well as receive information from other agents, according to the White House. And the constant fiddling with the earbuds is simply to help the agents hear better. Pressing the earpiece further into the ear tightens the seal, making it easier for agents to hear the information that is being relayed to them, especially if they are in a crowded and noisy environment. 

Additionally, those curly wires are just one of many types of earpieces the Secret Service uses. As Slate reports, there are other designs available, including much more inconspicuous ones that look just like standard iPhone earbuds, and agents can even get different color buds to blend in with their skin or hair.

So although all the face-touching may attract attention to the odd agent every once in a while, the whole set up is not quite as low-tech as it may seem.