Say the phrases "British Spy" or "MI6", and most people will immediately think of James Bond. The character of literary and film legend has affected entire generations, and it's not just because of Bond's great looks, suave demeanor, and manly mannerisms. The Bond franchise features some of the most innovative tech that's been seen on-screen, and the fiction stories that inspired the beloved films have often lead to the development of real-life technological innovations. Here are 10 surveillance gadgets that look like they were snatched from a James Bond movie, but actually exist.
1. Tracking Devices
Starting with 1964's Goldfinger, the world prominently saw Bond using neat tracking gadgets on the big screen. Now, you can actually look at your watch and track an individual's location or attach a homing device to a vehicle or other object without spending a month's salary or becoming a super spy. Companies such as Applied Digital Solutions make trackers that are discreet and integrated into everyday objects.
2. Fingerprint Scanners
James Bond tricked Tiffany Case and evaded her fingerprint scanner by using a fake print in 1971's Diamonds Are Forever. That seemed like a novel idea at the time, but now biometric technology can be found far and wide, even in some laptops. Bond may have gotten away with fooling people in the 70s, but today's equipment is so sophisticated that it could probably outsmart him.
3. The Minox Camera
Bond is seen peering through a little Minox camera in the 1969 film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and the movie sparked a huge demand for spy cameras. They came onto the market in the late 60s, and today you can buy spy cameras that are even smaller and much more technologically advanced than James Bond's. However, if you'd like a dose of nostalgia and want to spy like the master, you can find an authentic Minox A/IIIs camera at auction.
4. Spy Sunglasses
Roger Moore and Grace Jones appeared in the hit Bond film A View to a Kill (1985), and the smooth spy was seen donning a pair of polarized sunglasses that allowed him to see straight through dark tint. He not only looked great wearing the glasses, but audiences thought the tech was pretty awesome. Nowadays, anyone who wants similar sunglasses can get a pair that has polarized lenses and other nice features. Oakley polarized sunglasses have a built in music player and bounty hunter, just in case you want some good tunes to accompany your missions.
5. Ring Cameras
A View to a Kill not only had those cool sunglasses, but Bond wore a ring that had an integrated camera. If you need discreet surveillance and you want some cool jewelry, it's possible to buy a camera ring of your own. Not only do these small and stealthy devices take pictures, you can also download any photos that you snap onto your tablet. Plus, the rings available today look quite trendy.
6. Cybershot Phone
When Daniel Craig took the helm of the Bond franchise and made his debut in Casino Royale in 2006, he was seen using a cybershot camera phone to track down his target and communicate with his allies. The phone featured in the movie is the Sony Ericsson K800i, which has a super speedy 3.2 MP camera and GPS. If it was good enough for James Bond, there's little doubt this camera is good enough for every other spy.
7. Profile Touchscreens
In Casino Royale, the folks back at the MI6 HQ were seen using all types of awesome gadgets and surveillance tools. One was a touchscreen that the tech gurus at MI6 used to track down targets, locate Bond, and decide which moves to make next. Anyone looking at that movie may think there's no way a device so accurate exists in real life, but it does. Formerly known as the Surface, the Samsung PixelSense surface computer can become the highlight of your own Bond-like lair. Or you could just use it to do more practical things.
8. Powerful Mini Binoculars
What Bond wannabe doesn't need a great pair of binoculars? If you want to avoid being caught doing surveillance, the smaller your pair the better. Timothy Dalton used a particularly sleek pair of binoculars in 1987's The Living Daylights. For a modern update that not only looks good but works very well, the Ultravid HD 8x32s by Leica and Zagato should do the trick. You'll have to shell out a few thousand dollars, but the excellent lenses are about as close to Bond-level tech as you can get on the consumer market.
9. X-Ray Glasses
Pierce Brosnan looked great playing James Bond in the 1999 movie The World is Not Enough. He sported some x-ray glasses in that film that helped him do undercover surveillance and, inadvertently, get a closer look under the dresses of some lovely ladies. Anyone who has been through an airport knows that x-ray scanners are already being used in the real world, but x-ray glasses have also been developed. X-Reflect glasses are just one option, and in 2014 Google unveiled their X-Goggles at a San Francisco expo. Such glasses could be fun to wear for anyone who is looking to play spy, or they may be of great use to the handful of people in the world who actually are spies.
10. Facial Recognition Scanners
James Bond and MI6 have a knack for instantly finding out just who to go after. Back in the day, older computers would generate images in the movies, and in the modern era of the franchise high tech screens display suspects' full profiles and photos. Real-time facial recognition does exist, and law enforcement in some areas use this technology. It's a keen crime fighting and surveillance tool and has 90 to 95 percent accuracy, but it's not readily available to the public. While police and government agencies have facial recognition systems and a select few corporations can use cameras to post advertisements based on your face and gathered data, everyday people aren't able to buy real-time facial recognition systems without spending a considerable sum and having some great connections.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker