In 1953 a veteran of the British armed forces during World War 2 set down to write a spy novel based off of people he knew and his own experiences in the Naval Intelligence Division and 30 Assault Unit. Ian Fleming drew heavily on his own brother’s experiences behind the lines in Greece and Norway and he intended for his lead character to be extremely dull but just to have exciting things happen to him. To finish it off he named his character after an American ornithologist, who wrote the definitive guide to birds in the Caribbean. James Bond, 007, was born.

The franchise first spawned novels and short stories, fourteen in total before Fleming’s passing in 1964. Since then more have been added to the canon, and several spinoffs have also been added. In 1954 the first novel, Casino Royale was made into a one hour television adventure on CBS with Bond ironically as an American. The franchise was brought to the world in 1962 when Dr. No hit the silver screen with Sean Connery starring as James Bond. This time of year you will be able to find a Bond movie or marathon on TV.

One of the most iconic moments in each film is when Bond is given his car and his technology developed by Q Branch. Of course this technology uniquely lets Bond complete his mission in each film (and conveniently save his life). Many people have wanted to know when they can get their hands on some of this tech as it is years or decades ahead of its time and some of that is reality or is becoming reality.

The Car

Submarine Car

In The Spy Who Loved Me Bond is given a car, a Lotus Esprit, capable of operating as a submersible as well. He uses it to escape from Karl Stromberg’s secret base and his evil henchmen. While the actual vehicle used in the film was a prop, a working model of this has been developed by the Swiss auto manufacturer Rinspeed. It is called the sQuba and is capable of doing 75 mph on land and uses water jets to move underwater. You can buy one too, as long as you have £263,000 ($327,000). You just won’t have any missiles, torpedoes, mines or 1970’s Barbara Bach to go along with it. Sorry guys.

The Driverless Car

One of the most exciting car chases (a prerequisite for any Bond film) came in Tomorrow Never Dies. Bond has to navigate his way out of a parking garage but due to bad guys he is not able to get into the driver’s seat of his BMW 750. It didn’t matter as Q provided a mobile phone with a device that would allow him to control his car even if he is not in the driver’s seat. We have probably all dreamed of being able to do this and it is now reality. Land Rover has developed a smartphone app that allows a driver to control their vehicle. They anticipate this being used in cases where vehicles are parked too close to each other and not for escaping from automatic weapon wielding baddies. Still cool though.

The Flying Car

We have all wanted a flying car and they may become a reality in the next decade. Prototypes already exist. But in You Only Live Twice Bond had to use a one person gyrocopter to get to locate a cargo ship. He did so using a real device, called Little Nellie developed by Ken Wallis (who actually flew it in the film and not Sean Connery) and he engaged in aerial combat to shoot down four SPECTRE helicopters near Blofeld’s secret volcano lair. You know you said that like Dr. Evil did, admit it. While you may not be able to get one with guns, rockets and a rear-mounted flamethrower, the gyrocopter or flying car is coming and it may be sooner than you think.

The Invisible Car

In Die Another Day Bond is given control of an invisible car by Q. It uses hundreds of cameras and screens to display what should be seen had the car not actually been there. It would be invisible to the eye allowing Bond to travel secretly but of course still in style. Don’t want to mess up Pierce Brosnan’s tux now. While you will not be able to procure one of these anytime soon Mercedes-Benz developed a prototype of this to promote green energy. Could you be able to get your hands on one of these this time next decade? Probably not as an invisible car on the road would be a serious hazard.

The Watches

Geiger Counter

In Thunderball Bond is given a special watch which can be used to detect radiation. Bond was tasked with tracking down two nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE to be held for ransom and a Geiger counter would have been the easiest way to find them. Obviously this was much smaller than the standard Geiger counter, even one today. But if you ever wanted a watch that could double as a Geiger counter you can own one. MTM’s Special Ops Black Rad can be had for about $1,500.

The Smart Watch

Could Q have been the first person to develop the smart watch? In Octopussy Bond is able to use his watch to receive video transmissions wirelessly and it had a homing device as well. His Seiko watch came with a built in TV screen which Bond immediately used it to focus on a woman’s cleavage. Is this the first use of tech for peeping? Big tech for 1985 but you probably know someone who has a smart watch today as there are several commonly available on the market. While none are able to stream live video like Bond’s it is just a matter of time.



In Goldfinger Bond uses a homing device to find the eponymous character’s lair. In 1964 what Bond was using was quite advanced using satellite navigation to pinpoint a location. It was such a good idea that the CIA tried to replicate it at the time and failed miserably. Today we use GPS devices to help us navigate or just to locate where we are. In the 1960s only Bond had access to this technology, today we all do. Of course Bond also had another advantage as his homing device was placed on the dashboard of his Aston-Martin DB5, something that is common in nearly every new car today but certainly not even standard in an Aston-Martin then.

Jet Pack

In one of the most jaw dropping escapes, Bond uses a rocket pack to evade his pursuers and escape from a French chateau in Thunderball after killing a SPECTRE agent. What Sean Connery used in the film did work, but just barely as it could only fly for at most 30 seconds and landing was dangerous. That was the best of what was available at the time and all were extremely dangerous. Today, if you have about $100,000 you can own your own jet pack like the Martin Jetpack. Bond would have loved this as it can fly for 30 minutes, travels at up to 60mph and can reach 5,000 feet, but it does come with a parachute, just in case. 

Underwater Breather

Occasionally Bond would get caught in a tight situation and being stuck underwater was a common occurrence. In Thunderball Bond is given a small underwater breather so he can stay underwater longer to infiltrate Emilio Largo’s lair. He later uses one to enter Gustav Graves’ hideaway in Die Another Day. While his small breather would not be able to hold much oxygen today you can purchase the Spare Air Xtreme Sport, which can hold 10-15 extra breaths. Another device called Triton claimed to extract oxygen from the water and release the liquid back into the water allowing the user to continue on indefinitely but was found to not be what was advertised. So close and yet so far. 

Flamethrower Bagpipes

As Q takes Bond to see his latest tech in The World Is Not Enough in the background is another gadget, bagpipes that operate as a flamethrower. Intended to get a chuckle at the time these are actually real. The XM42 is the world’s first grab and go flamethrower with a 25 foot reach and 38 seconds of flame. You’ll never think of Scotland The Brave the same way again.

Small Cameras

During the era of the early Bond films a camera was a very bulky item. Just ask your parents about the cameras of their youth. But in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Bond is given a tiny camera to photograph plans in Blofeld’s lair. It could be easily concealed and he could easily carry it as he snuck around. Bond later uses a camera that fits into a ring in A View To Kill to covertly take pictures of Max Zorin’s estate. That was a big deal in 1969 and 1985, today we take it for granted. Just go to the local camera store and look at the size of the cameras available. Some of them are pretty darn small and if you want one ring sized the Ring Cam is what you need. A small digital camera is placed in a ring to record a marriage proposal and can be downloaded to a computer and there are plenty of other similar ring cams on the market.

Underwater Cameras

Of course Bond might also need to use a camera underwater as well. After all, it seemed like every bad guy had a secret underwater lair. In Thunderball he need to take pictures of secret compartments under Emilio Largo’s yacht. He also needed to do it in the dark. Q of course had the answer and Bond was given not only a camera capable of working underwater but that could also be used as an infrared camera. Underwater cameras are common now and have been for decades. Infrared cameras are also common now but they are still not cheap.

Robot Dog

Robot dogs are not unique to Bond. Doctor Who had his robotic companion K-9 and everyone’s favorite Time Lord is not the only one. In A View To Kill Q is seen playing with a remote controlled dog as Bond arrives. Bond later uses it to spy on Tanya Roberts as she gets out of the shower using its cameras (seems to be a theme with Roger Moore…). Several companies have attempted to create a robotic animal companion. Sony, Zoomer and Teksta have all come close enough to Q with Sony coming first in 2006. It uses AI to express emotions and communicate with other electronic devices. Just don’t use it to spy on someone.

Fingerprint Scanner

In Diamonds Are Forever Bond needs to trick a criminal into thinking that he is someone else so he makes a copy of that person’s fingerprint to fool security. In Bond’s case he uses a print that clings to his thumb very discreetly. Of course the villain (who would turn heroine) Tiffany Case, has a fingerprint scanner and biometric security. While that existed in 1971 the device itself was huge and expensive. Today Case would have it much easier as most smart tech today has a fingerprint scanner for biometric security. Bond would also have a much easier time getting a fingerprint and wouldn’t have to use any adhesives.

Coded Gun

In Skyfall Bond is given a gun that can only be fired by him. How? It is matched to his palm print. In 2012 it was a good idea and now it is reality, or at least in part. Armatix has designed something very similar, the Smart System. While it does not match a palm print it uses a wristwatch with microchips to communicate with the firearm and deactivates when the watch goes out of range unless a PIN code is entered thus preventing unauthorized people from using it. 

The Tech That Already Existed

Inflatable Ski Jacket

Every Bond movie features some kind of chase, be it a car chase, a boat chase or a ski chase and sometimes more than one. In The World Is Not Enough Bond gets caught in an avalanche while being chased by the usual stable of gun-wielding baddies. When covered by snow he inflated his jacket shielding him in a protective bubble of air and allowing him to survive. This is actually tech that already existed called avalanche airbags. When a cord is pulled a balloon inflates allowing the person to stay on top of the snow and not be buried by it. 


In The Living Daylights Bond has to keep his distance to discreetly observe a person that he is following so he uses a pair of binoculars. But these are not just any binoculars. They are small, innocuous and very powerful. It is now possible for you to own your own pair and it was at the time Timothy Dalton used them as well. Along the same lines Bond used a pair of binoculars to spy on a hitman in For Your Eyes Only and take pictures with a binocular camera. The model used, the Tasco 7800 Binoculars are hard to find but available though you’ll need to go to eBay to find it. In fact they were being made when the films were made as Roger Moore used an actual pair in the movie.

Grappling Gun

In Diamonds Are Forever Bond has to get to the top of Willard Whtye’s tower to find the enigmatic Whyte and so he is given a grapple gun to do it. While this is not electronics we have probably all wanted one of these at one point. The grappling hook itself was not new as the Romans used them to catch enemy ships and even a gun to shoot it was not new. The Allies developed them to scale the cliffs of Normandy in 1944. In 1971 when Bond used one it was not something that was commonly used by the public and it still isn’t. Grappling guns are still almost only used by military organizations and it is unlikely that this technology will be in civilian hands anytime soon. Bond though brought this technology to the public.

The Cellphone

You of course know that the cellphone has existed since the 1980s but those were the size of bricks, certainly not what a secret agent would want to have. In Tomorrow Never Dies Bond appears with what would have been considered tiny for a cellphone at the time. And his could pick locks, scan fingerprints, control his vehicle and it had a stun gun. Our modern phones can’t do all of that though there is a case that can double as a stun gun. C’mon it’s almost 2020, let’s get with it!

Mission Planning

MI6 Headquarters is a technology marvel on the silver screen. This is seen in Quantum of Solace as MI6 agents are seen using a table with touch screens to browse information about Bond’s target for that film, Dominic Greene. At the time this was a wow tech moment but it was real. Microsoft and Samsung had already released the interactive surface computing platform Microsoft PixelSense. It could recognize fingers, hands and other objects placed on the screen and interacts with those without the use of cameras.

The next installment of the Bond franchise is coming next spring but until them during this holiday season many channels will run Bond films. It is a great way to pass some of the downtime that comes this time of year and it is very easy to spend all day watching them. You don’t have to dream about how cool it would be to have some of that tech that he has, you too can own it. Or you could think about how ahead of his time Q (and the writers) were. What will they have for us in No Time To Die?

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top