What’s your favorite James Bond gadget of all time? If you have seen all of the 22 James Bond films so far, you will be hard-pressed to keep the list to just one. My choice would be the Microsoft Surface at the MI6 HQ in Quantum of Solace. The multi-touch surface is very much real today, and seems attainable by even us who are not in the spy business. The cell phones (lately, Sony Erricsson) used by 007 with GPS and other goodies are within reach too.
The smartphone is the most sophisticated gadget we carry with us everyday. And while we don’t have our own Q Branch working for us in a secret lab, thanks to a few intrepid DIY-ers and hackers, we can repurpose our old smartphones in our basements. I wouldn’t advise you to brick a new smartphone while playing spy, but here are three James Bond styled spy gadgets you can make from an old smartphone.
Turn Your Old Smartphone into a Dedicated GPS TrackerOur favorite spy had a GPS tracker built into his Sony Ericsson K800. Though that was way stylish, you can get close by installing apps like the Free GPS for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It’s a very simple app that can store multiple waypoints with latitude-longitude coordinates. With the waypoints set, you can navigate from one to the other.
As a wannabe spy you might have to grind those gears and beat the traffic before you get to the villains or the world’s next hotspot. Try out Waze which has a community based database at the backend, helping you out by identifying speed bumps, traffic bottlenecks, and even bad weather. As a part of the local driving community you join-up with other drivers in your area and defeat the worst urban foe we have – terrible traffic. Waze is a navigation aid rolled around a social network. You can set destination points and also chat with the community.
Plus, Waze is available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Nokia smartphones. We have mentioned it before in our directory. Here’s how it works:
So, what’s it going to be? A pricey GPS enabled handset that’s also a style statement or an old smartphone turned into a GPS device with the free choices of GPS apps available in plenty?
- The Top 3 Free Offline GPS Apps For Android
- The 9 Best iPhone GPS Apps
- How To Use A GPS Enabled Smartphone As A Tracking Device
- Determine Your Location With Geosense Location Sensor [Windows 7]
Control Your Car with Your SmartphoneTomorrow Never Dies sees James Bond use an Ericsson phone to remotely drive his BMW. He does it again in Die Another Day. Futuristic and cool? Not really, when you find out you can pretty much do the same with some electronic skills. This DIY-er took a 1st Generation iPhone and “talked” with his Subaru outback via SMS.
You will need to set up an Arduino to communicate between the iPhone and the car. The Arduino controls the ignition to start the car. The command to the Arduino comes with a SMS from the iPhone. The iPhone has to be jailbroken to make it work as a remote device. Full schematics and the step-by-step process are explained to make it all work together.
In fact, forget about the jailbroken iPhone. There are hacks floating around where you can do the same thing with a cheap cellphone. Here’s Dave Hacks for how to start your car remotely with a $10 disposable cell phone. But the only thing you are going to kill here is the environment.
We already have intelligent cars and practical remote control apps that let you do more than just drive. How about driving a car with an iPhone instead just like James Bond? Enter Waterloo Labs.
An outstanding iPhone hack in its day, it’s a bit complicated and takes uncommon inventiveness. Under the hood you have the brake and steering rigged with three separate motors. A laptop with specialized software serves as the brain and a custom made iPhone app controls the car. Even if you manage to pull this off, don’t take it to the public roads. A ticket could be the first reward.
We already have driverless cars thanks to Google. Very soon we may have an iPhone app too. If you are interested, read about iDriver, an experimental iPhone app which controls a specially made car.
Counter-surveillance with Your Old SmartphonesLet’s get back into the spy game. After all James Bond may be sipping martinis and spouting pick-up lines, but he is a spy. Maybe, you won’t make it as far as the CIA or MI6, but you can use your old smartphone (or even your new one) to fight the worst crime of all – abuse of power.
OpenWatch is a participatory citizen media project which is attempting to use mobile technology for public monitoring of authority figures. The video below explains what the crowdsourced effort is all about:
OpenWatch has apps for the iPhone and Android which allow you to secretly record video or audio and upload it to the OpenWatch server with geotags. The Cop Recorder apps are Open source and are available on the website as well as on the respective stores. Once you press the record button, the app records an interaction without any visual cues. Moving away, you can stop the recording and upload it to the OpenWatch servers anonymously. If you are using an old smartphone you can use the audio recorder for the counter-surveillance. The site maintains the anonymity when it posts the recording to the media gallery.
Secret surveillance may be illegal in some parts of the world and the United States.
Your James Bond gadget fetish need not end here. There are lots of other ways you can turn that old smartphone into a useful spy device. Tell us about your inspiration. Maybe, you can find some here in these previous phone re-purposing posts:
- 3 Cool Gadgets That You Can Build Yourself
- 10 Apps To Make Your Old Windows Mobile Phone Useful
- 3 Most Effective Cell Phone Surveillance Apps to Monitor Your Kids [Android]
- Make 4 Cool Spy Gadgets With Your Windows Mobile Phone