Gadget-less Bond

Despite the vaguely technical title, the latest James Bond installment, Quantum of Solace, is almost completely devoid of gadgets.

Despite the vaguely technical title, the latest James Bond installment, Quantum of Solace, is almost completely devoid of gadgets.

Gee-whiz gadgets have been a mainstay of the Bond oeuvre, from car ejection seats to lighters that convert into pistols, from watches with lasers to personal jetpacks. But with the "reboot" of the series starting with the last movie, Casino Royale, the filmmakers have dramatically downplayed the use of devices as deus-ex-machina methods of getting Bond out of a jam.

I saw QoS on Sunday night, and the only gadgets of significance that I noted were:

• A Minority Report/iPhone/Microsoft Surface type large-scale interface featuring multitouch, gesture control, and magical-connection-with-every-database-and-communication-system-on-Earth. In a world where getting a smartphone to seamlessly hand off between GSM and Wi-Fi is fraught with difficulty, this is potentially boffo in a nerdy kind of way. But the whole touchscreen interface thing has already passed into cliche. Gee-whiz factor is 2 out of 5: Doesn't cause dismemberment, seen it before.

• Digital cameras: I know, stretching here to find a gadget. There are only two reasons these are notable: The magical way in which they transmit photos and voice instantly back to MI6 in England (Eye-Fi card on steroids) and because they are made by Sony. Sony owns Columbia pictures...which made the movie.

• Facial recognition software: MI6 demo'd some software for taking the photos off the Sony digital cameras and recognizing the faces on them despite the fact that they were in a poorly lit avant garde stadium opera. Gee-whiz factor: 1 out of 5: MI6 needs to talk to a certain Crime Scene Investigation department in Las Vegas, Nev., because it's got better stuff.

• Ford Edges showed up in several scenes. (Ford was the official automotive supplier for the movie. It owns Aston Martin and used to own Land Rover, whose vehicles also appeared prominently until it was sold to India's Tata Motors last year). However, the filmmakers missed a gadget opportunity by not getting the Edge to dial up a suitable soundtrack using its Sync system while tearing down the narrow streets of an exotic city while being pursued by villains.

The filmmakers have seemingly confined Bond gadget plot devices to the dustbin of history. Or perhaps they've just decided that it's become impossible to out-wow real-life technology and that they will instead rely on mundane technology and impossible action sequences.

The gadget that I want? The titanium skeletal structure and self-healing epidermis that James Bond obviously has been upgraded with. Or how else could he survive the incredible beatings that he receives without so much as a slightly tussled hair and a few specks of blood above his eye? The Italian construction site fight scene is insane: I counted at least 47 points at which one or more bones should have been broken. Yet he walks out of it like the Robert Patrick T-1000 in Terminator 2, completely unscathed and not even breathing hard.

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About the author

    Adam Richardson is the director of product strategy at frog design, where he guides strategy engagements for frog's international roster of clients, envisioning and creating new products, consumer electronics, and digital experiences. Adam combines a background in industrial design, interaction design, and sociology, and spends most of his time on convergent designs that combine hardware, software, service, brand, and retail. He writes and speaks extensively on design, business, culture, and technology, and runs his own Richardsona blog.

     

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