Skyfall and the Advance of Technology

The new James Bond movie Skyfall opens here in the UK on 26th October, and two weeks later in the US on November 9th (too bad for you guys!) It looks like it’s going to be a great movie.

It’s the 23rd in the series, released 50 years after the first, Dr No, in 1962. A lot has happened in that time, not least in the world of international politics, but even more so in the world of technology, and Bond’s gadgets reflect that. In fact, Bond films were always ahead of the curve, with devices like an early car-phone (From Russia with Love), an industrial laser (Goldfinger), a voice changer (Diamonds are Forever), a solar-powered ray-gun (The Man with the Golden Gun), a remote-controlled BMW (Tomorrow Never Dies), X-Ray glasses (The World is not Enough) and an Aston Martin with adaptive camouflage technology (Die Another Day).

So what gadget will Bond use in Skyfall? Well, a Sony smartphone actually: the Sony Xperia T. That might sound rather mundane, but think about what a modern smartphone will enable a secret agent to do. It will let you make video calls with M, or when discretion is required you can use it to send a silent text message. You can photograph confidential documents or evil henchmen and email the pictures instantaneously back to MI6 HQ. You can browse the web to find out a critical piece of information whilst in the field. You can determine your position thanks to GPS and use mapping software to find out where to go next. Almost anything that a secret agent needs can be done with a smartphone. And if it can’t, there’s probably an app for it.

When you think about it, if a smartphone-like device had appeared in the first Bond film half a century ago it would have been dismissed as pure fantasy, more suitable for a sci-fi film set in the distant future. In fact, the original Star Trek series that featured a Communicator was supposed to be set in the twenty-third century.

That’s an indication of how much technology has changed in that time. And the best bit? Almost anyone can use one. (Disclaimer – do not try to infiltrate any secret organisations at home.) 75% of the world’s population already own a cell phone, and the number of smartphones in use is increasing at a fast rate. Despite talk of a growing gap between rich and poor, on a global scale, advances in technology are rapidly diminishing the real gap.

Now I don’t know of any smartphones that can be used as lethal weapons, but in an emergency you could always try hitting the bad guy with it. The problem is that the Sony weighs less than 5 ounces, so it probably isn’t going to be a lot of use. Sometimes you just can’t beat the old-fashioned human approach.

About the author:

Steve Morris is a lifelong Bond fan. He is also an enthusiastic geek who studied Physics at the University of Oxford and used to do research in nuclear physics. These days he runs an internet company and writes about mobile technology at http://www.s21.com/.

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