The real life Q
"If you can't hear or smell it, it's probably radio," says Ramsey Faragher, before returning to some soldering. Who is Ramsey Faragher? Officially, he's principal scientist at the top-secret Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) - a hotshot R&D base for defence contractor BAE Systems. Unofficially, he's the real-life Q: one of the government's go-to boffins who spends his life inventing gadgets used by actual secret - and perhaps double - agents. But he's not just for spooks. His gadgets, and his colleagues' creations, are used by serving troops, pilots, submariners and, one day, you.
Let's say you're driving along when the road dips underground. Your satnav freaks out and satellites become useless, in the same way they're useless to a desert ops driver whose enemy has jammed the GPS signal. You now need Ramsey's NAVSOP (Navigation via Signals of Opportunity) system. Essentially, it harvests all sorts of radio signals - from phone masts to telly towers - then uses them to build a picture of your surroundings. In other words, it knows where you are according to how good Terry Wogan sounds in that neck of the woods. And because there's some sort of radio signal everywhere on Earth, even if very faint, it works in tunnels, dense jungles and hatchbacks.