The Technology of Solace

Technology featured in television and film has always played against reality for the sake of storytelling. Hackers can use any computer and crack government databases with just the keyboard. It’s easy to impersonate anybody when you have a rubber mask that’s impossibly lifelike and an electronic sample of the subject’s voice. And, of course, the grainiest, lowest-resolution footage or picture can always be enhanced to pristine clarity at the touch of a button. Such are the liberties that entertainment takes.

James Bond films are notorious for pushing the envelope of technological reality. Not only does Bond perform unbelievable physical feats, like skydiving after a runaway plane, para-surfing a wave caused by a falling ice shelf and uttering cringe-worthy puns with a straight face, but his gadgets have also tested audiences’ willing suspension of disbelief. In recent incarnations, Bond has fought Koreans that could turn into Caucasians, driven a car that could become invisible and worn x-ray glasses that could spot concealed weapons, but couldn’t penetrate lingerie.

By and large, the Daniel Craig Bond reboot has vanquished these required stretches of imagination. Casino Royale proved that all Bond really needs is a cell phone, access to the Internet and a gun to get the job done. When MI6 needs information in a hurry, they do the practical thing and Google it. The objective is to reinvent James Bond as a real person instead of the cliché international man of mystery. So as the much anticipated release of Quantum of Solace approaches, audiences can rest assured that they’ll see modern technology that exists in the real world.

2009 Ford Ka

James Bond is highly regarded for his taste in cars – most notably the Astin Martin. Early Bond, however, is not above driving less exotic vehicles. In Casino Royale, he sported around in a Mondeo built by Ford of Europe. Ford makes another appearance in Quantum of Solace with the eco-friendly Ka. The two-door, compact city car has been redesigned for 2009 with Ford of Europe’s “kinetic design” and has been equipped with new engine technology.

The power behind the Ka is twofold. The first is a 1.2-liter PS Duratec petrol engine and the second is a 1.3-liter 75 PS Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel. The two technologies increase the Ka’s fuel efficiency while also reducing its carbon emissions. Leave it up to a Bond film to feature a car that’s less expensive to drive and safer for the environment. Unfortunately, Americans eager to test-drive the Ka will most likely have to import it first.

Facial Recognition Technology

Software sophisticated enough to match faces in different pictures has been a reality for some time. The technology works, but only when researchers have the ability to control the variables, like lighting, angle and type of camera. When you’re an international spy, stalking a potential terrorist, you don’t get the luxury of asking him or her to pose for you just right so the folks at MI6 can identify them. Fortunately, new technology is being developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA to compensate for uncontrolled environments.

The new facial recognition technology functions by studying a database of faces using a “feature-extraction algorithm” in order to determine unique characteristics like eye, nose and chin shapes. The challenge developers are facing is getting the software to match the same face between varying image resolutions, but the developers are hopeful and believe that one day soon people will be able search Google using images rather than text.

Sony Ericsson C902 Cyber-shotTM Phone

When you’re tracking and identifying bad guys it helps to have a good camera and a convenient way to send the pictures. The C902 camera-phone is the perfect solution for the spy on the go. It boasts a 5-megapixel camera with face detection, flash and auto-focus. This makes it easy for Bond to take high-resolution pictures of suspects and have MI6 identify them on the fly. The C902 also has a convenient BestPicTM feature which allows users to take up to nine simultaneous pictures and then choose the best looking shot.

Bond aficionados will want to take advantage of the limited edition Titanium Silver C902 used in the film. The phone should be released sometime in November and will come pre-loaded with Bond memorabilia, like the Quantum of Solace trailer, James Bond theme song and the first level of a secret agent video game. It’s rumored that users will also be able to make phone calls.