Quantum of Solace: The James Bond Theory of Entrepreneurial Innovation

With a new Bond film opening, let's a take a look back at how prescient Q has been about what technologies will become available.

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Here’s the theory: any technology deployed as a gadget in a James Bond film will become available in real life at some point within about twenty-five years after that film’s release, if it was not already available.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some notable examples.

From Russia With Love (1963) - All the Bond movies are famous for their fabulously tricked-out automobiles with various rocket launchers, machine guns, ejector seats, etc installed. In this movie, Bond wowed 60’s audiences with a car complete with a built-in phone! Ok, let’s move on from this one…

Thunderball (1965) - Bond did some underwater stalking while a wearing a watch with its own Geiger counter. Today, something similar is commercially available.

The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) - Anyone who played the Bond video-game adaptation GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64 knows that the titular gun from this film can kill anyone with one shot, but can only hold one round. Today, you can find videos online about how to make your own “coilgun,” which uses electromagnetics to fire large projectiles at high velocities.

Moonraker (1979) - In almost certainly the cheesiest Bond film ever, space-walking Marines get into a laser battle with the henchmen of villain Hugo Drax. Today, the US and Israeli governments have developed a laser that successfully shot down several mortar rounds in 2004.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) - Q gives Bond a special remote control for his new BMW. A few years later, Ericsson released a phone with the same design as the remote control. Maybe this shouldn’t really count as an entrepreneurial innovation, considering that it’s a blatant example of product placement.

We haven’t given the gadgets from most recent Bond films enough time to gestate.  That means it'll be a few years before we see foolproof virtual reality like the combat simulator in Die Another Day (2002).

The new Daniel Craig-era of James Bond is going for a much less tech-heavy, more “realistic” take on the series. That means that when you go see Quantum of Solace, which opens today, you’re not going to see any future innovations. Instead, you’re going to see Bond use multi-surface touch technology similar to Microsoft Surface, released earlier this year.