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Friday, May 30, 2008

Revival of Bond's Gadgets

Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was born 100 years ago today. But while his hero's Cold War concerns may have dated, some of Bond's gadgets have not.
Some movies and stories used existing technologies such as jetpacks (Dr No), autogyros (You Only Live Twice) and GPS-capable phones (Casino Royale). But many of Bond's toys were way ahead of their time – and only now are we beginning to catch up.

Fake fingerprints (Diamonds Are Forever)

In what has become known as the "Gummi Bear Attack", Japanese cryptographer Tsutomu Matsumoto showed in 2002 that a person's fingerprints could indeed be copied and used to create fake ones with relative ease, as suggested in Diamonds Are Forever.
Using gelatine as found in chewy sweets like gummi bears, he showed that a latent print could be lifted from a glass and used to fool 80 per cent of fingerprint scanners tested.

Phone-controlled car (Tomorrow Never Dies)

In 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond becomes his own backseat driver, steering his car using a touchpad on a phone showing the view out of the front window on its display.
Mobile phones with accelerometers can be used to control toy cars using free software dubbed ShakerRacer. The user holds the phone like a steering wheel and tilts it in the direction they want the car to drive (see video). It's an approach that looks easier to use than that of Bond's gadget-master, Q, who had 007 sliding his finger over a touch pad.
Military robots controlled using the Nintendo Wii-mote were recently demonstrated by US researchers, an idea worthy of Q. They say it makes controlling a robot used to investigate unexploded bombs or mines easier, and plan to use Apple's iPhone to display video from Wii-controlled robots.

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