Viewing Globes are magical items that allow one to see various things over a long distance. They are similar to scrying glasses in nature of use, though seem to be more widely used.
The viewing globe is typically a form of glass orb, much like a crystal ball, that can vary in size, ranging from small table-top orbs, presumably to any size the orb can be made to (the largest one seen was brought in by a troupe of imps and a foliot, and was used for the purpose of advertising a play by Quintin Makepeace). Within the orb is trapped a spirit of some form, presumably an imp, though a demi-afrit was used to track the mad Honorius. The imp appears in the globe, and receives its instructions from the magician, after which it takes the form of a red sphere (on the first plane), known commonly as Search Spheres. The magician is able to see anything that the imp sees, though cannot typically hear anything (though it is noted by Bartimaeus that the spirits have an above average sense of smell, which also cannot be relayed to the magician).
Viewing Globes are used en masse by the British Government at the time of the books. In London especially, the red orbs are seen everywhere; patrolling streets, staking out suspicious areas, or being sent on general search missions. They are commonly seen hanging over doorways in areas full of commoners and are generally hated by said commoners, although they are very useful for magicians.
The more senior magicians (those of the council for instance) were also seen using viewing globes during the Golem Affair to note the progress of the Afrit, Honorius, Nathaniel when he used Kitty Jones to attempt to acquire the Staff of Gladstone, and Nathaniel and the Golem itself when the creature lurched its way to Parliament.
The Globes have several deficiencies, the most notable of which are:
- The orbs can only see what it going on, they can not hear anything, though the spirits themselves probably can.
- The red, glowing Search Spheres are very noticeable, making them near enough useless for stealth spying, and are used more to deter crime than to catch it in the act.
- The Spheres are tangible, and thus can be destroyed, rendering the orb useless. Honorius, the mad Afrit, proved this a number of times as he rampaged across London.