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Technology from James Bond Movies that Exists Now

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James Bond movies first hit the silver screen in 1962 with the release of Dr. No. Based on the Ian Fleming novels of the same name, the James Bond films instantly ingrained themselves in the pop culture zeitgeist. Multiple generations have oohed and aahed as they’ve watched the British spy use cool technology to nab villains and escape peril. 22 Bond films have seen released over the past 60 years, and to date, seven British actors have filled the role of the world’s best spy. Globally, the Bond franchise has earned a cool $7 billion.

Bond. James Bond. The name alone conjures up shaken martinis (really, is there any other way to imbibe?), debonair coolness, wealth, international intrigue, and cutting-edge technology. In each movie, the featured cutting-edge technological gadgets stand as characters more than the henchmen of some of the Bond villains. Audiences marvel at this futuristic, seemingly fantastical spy gear, never imagining that the gadgets may hit the consumer market. For example, when Diamonds are Forever was released in 1971, a featured fingerprint scanner seemed like technology that could only exist in Hollywood imaginations. Yet along with other forms of biometrics, the fingerprint scanner has become commonplace in corporate security, and even acts as a security measure on our smartphones.  

Out of all of the blockbuster James Bond films, which feature technology exists now? How did the inception of imaginative technology come to fruition? Let’s take a look at some examples of famous James Bond gadgets which are mass-produced today.

Tomorrow Never Dies and its technology lives on too

Tomorrow Never Dies, Pierce Brosnan’s second turn as 007, was released in 1997. As of 2020 (before the release of Never Say Die), the 18th Bond movie came in at seven on the list of highest-grossing Bond films–it raked in $125.3 million. At the time, Tomorrow Never Dies was thought to showcase one of the craziest examples of James Bond technology–a mobile phone that answered commands.

The Ericsson JB988 was created solely for the film, and Brosnan’s Bond uses it to remote control his car (among other things). In 1997, wealthy Bond audiences still used unwieldy mobile car phones and although pre-paid mobile “smart” phones were becoming more accessible to average consumers, the phones had limited technological features. Just ask anyone who had a cell phone in the 90s or early 2000s about the terror of “toggling” to send a text message. Bond’s Ericsson JB988 proved prophetic, though. By the 2010s, all purchased cell phones held myriad “smart” features, including the ability to link and control other smart devices via your cell phone.

The microchip implant from Casino Royale

2006 ushered in a new Bond era, with Daniel Craig debuting in the role of 007 in Casino Royale. Craig has since played James Bond in four more films, with No Time to Die slated to be the last. Some of the technology featured in the film still seemed a long way off but 16 years since the movie’s release, some of the showcased technology has come to fruition. In Casino Royale, Bond receives a microchip implant to allow MI6 to use GPS monitoring and track his vital signs. In the past, this technology had been paid lip service by conspiracy theorists who believed governments would unveil microchips as a way to enslave citizens. However, it still felt a long way off.

By the 2010s, pet owners were given the option of implanting microchips in their animals to help locate cats and dogs should they go missing. And, consumers began to download fit apps and purchase devices like FitBit or a Smartwatch to track their vitals and location. People aren’t lining up to receive microchip implants for consumerism purposes just yet. However, new microchip technology could allow scientists to treat brain disorders and many companies across several sectors have announced practical plans to utilize implants. Ethical questions still arise when microchip implants are discussed in the public sector, but the technology to seamlessly allow implantation exists. 

Jetting away with Thunderball

In 1965, Sean Connery–the actor most synonymous with James Bond–starred in Thunderball, the fourth Bond film in the franchise. In the film, Bond escapes his enemies via a jetpack. While the jetpack looked like a Hollywood prop, it actually worked. The pack was built by Bell-Textron for U.S. military use but was deemed too dangerous. In fact, jetpacks had appeared in fictional stories for decades before Thunderball and scientists worked arduously to make the packs a reality. Here are a few examples of the evolution of this technology, and how Bond’s experience in the film is a reality for a select few today:

  •  In 1965, James Bond was able to soar in the sky with his pack, but a flight with the Bell-Trexton pack could only last for 21 seconds. And this technology was still some way off for society at large.
  •  In 2012,  Jetlev created the first water-powered jetpack–which allows users to experience personal flight but doesn’t provide for lengthy flights above land.
  • In 2015, Jetpack Aviation created the first FAA-approved public flight jetpack, the JB-9.
  • In 2021, the British Royal Navy used jetpacks manufactured by Gravity Industries for at sea military practices.
  • Also in 2021, pilots near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), claimed to have seen a man, strapped with a jetpack, in flight. There’s speculation that this could have been a balloon, but it feels more like a real-life James Bond could have been mounting an escape.

We’re still a long way off from safe, regulated jetpacks that can be purchased and used by the public, but jetpack technology continues to evolve.

Skyfall has biometric weapons security

The 2012 release of Skyfall isn’t that far in the past, and some of the fantastical technology featured in the film exists today. The writers of the film may have been off on cybersecurity, but some of the coolest gadgets showcased in Skyfall are now a reality. Nonetheless, some tech professionals felt incensed about how much Skyfall got wrong: In 2012, Technical expert Kevin Curran even penned a rant about Skyfall for the BBC website. Curran found much about the cyber-terrorist and Bond nemesis, Raoul Silva completely inaccurate and over the top. Curran’s main complaint stemmed from the way Silva kept his computer hardware and the ease in which he hacked computer systems. As the Bond film crew botched this obvious detail, it would seem none of the technology showcased in Skyfall could possibly make sense. 

Enter the biometric-enabled Walther PPK/S. In the film, the gun can only be unlocked with an identified palm print. Thus, if a non-owner got ahold of this Walther, they would not be able to use it. This technology is extremely helpful to James Bond, who engages in many gun battles where he may drop his weapon.  

After the release of Skyfall, Slate.com called the sleek gun “a weapon we should actually make.” Thus, while biometric weapons took another decade to evolve, smart guns hit the market shortly after the James Bond movie hit the theaters. In 2014, the German gun Armatix iP1 required that a weapon holder wear a wristwatch that communicates with the gun. If the gun loses contact with the watch, it won’t fire a single shot. In 2022, LodeStar Works, a gun manufacturer based in Idaho, announced that they have developed a gun with biometric safety features. Similarly, a gun company called Biofire in Colorado has developed fingerprint readers for yet-to-be-released guns. Both companies face opposition from the NRA but are trying to cut through the legal red tape to get their guns released to the public. Yet, a biometric weapon sounded like a far-fetched notion a mere decade ago. The reality of mass production of these guns is no longer a long way off.

Moonraker technology comes to life

In the 1979 James Bond movie Moonraker, Roger Moore plays a Bond fully entrenched in the space age. When a space shuttle is hijacked mid-flight and explodes, James Bond is the only spy who can find the culprits. At the close of the 1970s, the space shuttle was in full development–and it seemed like pure fantasy. Although space shuttle technology played a huge role in the 1980s, the excitement faded…until Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos utilized it to bring paying passengers aboard space shuttles and travel into the galaxy.

The Concorde jet also plays a role in Moonraker. Bond arrives in Rio de Janeiro on the Air France Concorde. For the latter part of the 20th century, the supersonic Concorde was seen as the best of high-class experiences in the skies. However, by 2003, the last Concorde was grounded due to high maintenance costs and a lack of sold tickets. Alas, the futuristic mode of travel lost its appeal and was rendered obsolete. 

These are just some of the cool technologies in James Bond movies that exist today. Smartphones, microchip implants, jetpacks, biometrically-secured weapons, and the space shuttle have become a reality, which makes us hopeful that some of the other cool Bond gadgetry may come into existence too. However, there’s no word yet on bagpipe-flamethrowers, rocket cigarettes, grenade launcher pens, or explosive toothpaste becoming available for purchase.  

 The films have inspired technological advances that, perhaps, would never have come about without the creative imaginations behind the James Bond movies. Some Bond technologies are even currently utilized to help solve and stop crimes. James Bond films will probably continue to pave the way for more cool technologies in the future. In the meantime, we’ll just have to dream about alligator submarines.

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