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3 James Bond Gadgets You Can Make From an Old Smartphone

Saikat Basu 25-04-2012

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 Tracker

Our 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.

james bond gadgets

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 [Broken URL Removed] 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.


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?

Also Read:

Control Your Car with Your Smartphone

Tomorrow 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.

james bond gadgets


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 Smartphones

Let’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:

Image Credit:Secret Agent Banners via Shutterstock

Related topics: GPS, Surveillance.

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  1. Terrence Woods
    August 27, 2017 at 5:27 am

    This is EXACTLY what I've been looking for! Thank you!

  2. Jason.Kaven
    May 5, 2015 at 8:04 am

    What a useful article! I'm using a GPS tracker iKeyMonitor gps tracking app and planning to change another good one. Thank you for sharing! ikeymonitor.com

  3. Suraj chapkai
    September 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    I like this site .............

  4. shaurya boogie
    June 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    are all these things true?

    • Saikat Basu
      June 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      Oh absolutely! These are all practical projects. DIY-ers even go beyond these.

  5. Kyem Ghosh
    April 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Hello Saikat. I think the GPS tracker is almost same as the one provided by Google maps and Google latitude. Is it so? But Google latitude only locates a friend if he is connected with the user via Google account. Moreover the navigator compass might be same as the compass provided in nokia phones. If I'm right, then I'm having it!!
    And controlling the car with cellphone is really an interesting topic!
    I would be interested to track the details of an unknown mobile number from which I've got a call (James Bond: Quantum of solace). But it needs the number database from mobile operators and they won't allow to access their database. But there must be some system such that their location can be traced like avast internet security helps to trace the location of an IP address!!! Might be a stupid one. But these above examples were once thought to be stupid but are now made possible!!!!

    • Saikat
      April 26, 2012 at 4:58 am

      Yes, the GPS tracker is nearly the same. Reverse number search is very possible but is legally restricted. I don't think there is a solution that's available for the common man. You are right, yesterday's fantasy is today's reality.