One of the best aspects of being a spy is the ability to use the baddest high-tech gadgets to help get your job done.
What would Die Another Day be without Pierce Brosnan's see-through Aston Martin, or what would Tom Cruise be without his laundry list of gadgets such as the Glue Gloves in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol or the camera glasses in Mission: Impossible?
Sound like Google Glass much?
Let's face it, as technology continues to become more and more advanced, our favorite fictitious agents seem to be the first ones who get their hands on these high-tech gizmos.
But you would be surprised by the number of spy gadgets we see in movies and in TV that are actually real products.
And with the release of the latest spy movie, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which hits theaters this weekend, we expect CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to be equipped with the most advanced weapons the 1960s has to offer.
Based off the TV series which aired on NBC from September 1964 to January 1968, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. follows the story of two secret agents who work from an international counter-espionage and law-enforcement agency during the height of the Cold War.
The two agents must work together to stop a criminal organization from getting their hands on nuclear weapons and technology that could tip the balance of power between the U.S. and Soviet Union.
So in honor of groundbreaking technology developed for our favorite special agents, let's take a look at the best spy gadgets in TV and film that actually exist.
Hidden Guns: The Man From U.N.C.L.E, The Man With The Golden Gun
This spy TV series featured various gadgets and high-tech weapons in each episode, but one of the most easily concealed weapons was the .32-caliber pistol that was disguised as a cigarette lighter. All they had to do was flip the lid of the lighter to make the gun go off, making it one of the best hidden guns as seen on television.
Napoleon and Illya had even more tricks up their sleeves when it came to hidden guns. The two defeated T.H.R.U.S.H. villains with a miniature camera that shot gas pellets through its lens.
If the old hidden-gun trick seems like an obvious gadget for a spy, that's because it is. Real hidden guns were both used by the CIA and the KBG in the form of lighters, belt buckles, jewelry, lipstick and even pens—just like Scaramanga's trademark Golden Gun in the 1974 James Bond flick, The Man With The Golden Gun.
The Golden Gun was a single-shot hidden handgun that fired a 4.2-caliber golden bullet. It was assembled using a few everyday objects like a cigarette case, lighter and a pen.
While this hybrid gun is one of most well-known weapons in spy film, both the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) and the KBG used guns that resembled fountain pens, which were first invented somewhere in the 1920s. Called the "Stinger," the hidden gun would fire a .22-caliber single round at close range. In the 1990s, a more modern form of the Stinger was invented, which folded into a minihandgun and fired multiple rounds.
High-Tech Contact Lenses—I Spy, Mission: Impossible
If you were a real-life spy in today's world, Google Glass simply won't cut it. To be inconspicuous, a special agent needs the video camera contact lens as seen in I Spy. In this 2002 remake of the spy series from the '60s, Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson have a scene where Murphy is able to see what Owen sees via the video camera lenses he wears.
The Mission: Impossible franchise also featured contact lenses that were equipped with high-tech components, such as the scanner contact lens that prints what the spy looks at when blinking twice, as seen in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
But image-capturing contact lenses are not that far off in reality. Google is developing contact lenses that would collect health data that would help diabetics monitor their blood sugar levels.
The lenses could also help the visually impaired. According to a filed patent, the lenses would capture data as the wearer looks at an object or a scene, which could then be shared on a smartphone. The image data would be able to detect faces, motion, patterns, lights and colors. The Google smart lens facial recognition technology could also be developed for law enforcement agencies, something Google Glass can already do. Looks like this technology will not just be seen exclusively in films.
Shoe Gadgets: Get Smart, From Russia With Love
Fans of the series Get Smart know that Maxwell Smart had the perfect fashion accessory that doubled as a mobile phone, the infamous shoe phone. The shoe phone made its debut in the first episode, and made multiple appearances throughout the series.
Self-explanatory, the shoe phone looked like a normal dress shoe, but actually had a working telephone inside its sole, something that was insanely high-tech for the '60s. Steve Carell also sported the shoe gadget in the series' 2008 remake.
That isn't the only shoe gadget used in spy movies. In the 1963 James Bond film From Russia With Love, SPECTRE agent Rosa Klebb uses a shoe equipped with a dagger that comes out from the tip of the shoe that is lethal with a single blow. That's because the dagger contains a poison that kills the victim in just 12 short seconds.
The idea for the shoe dagger in the 007 movie came about after author of the franchise, Ian Fleming, met with former CIA Director Allen Dulles, who urged that the movies needed spy gadgets that were more like the gadgets real spys used.
Arguably the best gadget 007 used was the Bell-Trexton Jetpack in 1965's Thunderball. Actor Sean Connery as Bond made the best getaway when he used the jetpack to escape his enemies, landing next to his Aston Martin DB5. "No well-dressed man should be without one," he says.
While this scene probably left moviegoer's jaws open, the jetpack very much exists in this day-and-age. Time magazine named the Martin Jetpack one of the top 50 inventions for 2010. The world's first practical jetpack was developed by Glenn Martin in 1981 and is used for manned and unmanned via remote control rescue missions by the military, and for recreational use. The jetpack has about 30 minutes flight time and can reach an altitude of up to 3,000 feet at speed of up to 45 mph.
From the more bizarre gadgets like the copter hat in Inspector Gadget, to the more realistic ones like the touchscreen computer table in Ghost Protocol, we love watching spy movies and TV series for the tech as much as the action.
With movies like Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation released July 31, The Man From U.N.C.L.E out in theaters Aug. 14, and the theatrical debut of Spectre on Nov. 6, the 24th Bond film, we are sure a whole new generation of high-tech gadgets will be born.
Photo: The Man From U.N.C.L.E | Facebook