Crazy Mission: Impossible Tech That Actually Exists

Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Tom Cruise’s latest death-defying action-fest, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, lands in theaters today. Whether you’re a fan of the espionage series or not, you can't deny: The guy's got style. And a big part of that style is the high-tech toys he gets to wield on-screen.

While much of that is just Hollywood running wild with its imagination, the truth is, some Mission: Impossible tech has actually become reality. Google, BMW, and even crafty thieves have taken concepts from the film and made them happen in real life.

Don't believe us? Here’s a look back at the Mission: Impossible tech that’s made it from Hollywood imagining to the real thing.

1 of 5
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Rappelling From The Ceiling To Avoid Sensors
Rappelling, whether off of mountainsides or buildings, is something we’ve been capable of for decades now. In the first Mission: Impossible film, Tom Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt takes it to a new level though: He rappels into the CIA building, never touching the ground, to gather information off a computer in a high-security, motion sensor-strewn room. In March 2010, some talented New Jersey thieves used this very same technique to successfully rappel from the roof of a Best Buy, into the store, to steal $26,000 in computers. They avoided setting off the store’s motion sensors (located along the floors) and alarms, and also rappelled behind store banners to avoid being caught on security cameras. Honestly, this is the most impressive heist we’ve heard of in ages.
2 of 5
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Electric Car
In 2011’s Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise drives a sweet BMW i8 hybrid that, at the time, was purely a concept. Now, a very similar version of this electric vehicle actually exists. With gullwing-like "scissor doors" and a super aerodynamic chassis, it looks just as cool.
3 of 5
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Facial Recognition Contact Lenses
In Mission: Impossible 4, an agent wears contact lenses that can perform facial recognition. In reality, facial recognition is possible with Google Glass (although Google says it doesn’t officially support that application because it’s creepy). And while it doesn’t exist quite yet, Google also invented a smart contact lens with an integrated camera that could perform facial recognition, or more altruistically, act as a bionic eye for the blind and visually impaired.
4 of 5
Photo: Courtesy of Microsoft.
Touchscreen Desk Computers
In one scene in Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise sets a USB down onto a touchscreen computer-table, and the files download automatically. Here, we see two technologies that have come to fruition. The first are large touchscreen computers like the Microsoft PixelSense and original Microsoft Surface. But it's the file transfer technology that's futuristic in this film. Nowadays, you can use Bluetooth and WiFi to transfer files at close proximity (like over Apple's Airdrop), and you can also charge devices wirelessly.
5 of 5
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount.
Fake, Peel-Off Masks
In just about every Mission: Impossible flick, it seems like there's a scene where a character pulls off a hyper-realistic face mask to reveal their true identity. Now, there are actual latex masks that border on that degree of realism — although the effect is easier to pull off if you go for an older-looking, wrinkled face with a lot of texture. In fact, an Asian man used one of these masks to successfully disguise himself and board a flight from Hong Kong to Canada. His fake identity was eventually found out because his hands looked far too young for his elderly-looking face.

More from Tech


R29 Original Series