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Bond's Q: DVD will self-destruct in 36 hours

By Jeordan Legon

New DVDs with disappearing content were used to promote the latest James Bond movie.
New DVDs with disappearing content were used to promote the latest James Bond movie.

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(CNN) -- The resourceful Q, James Bond's chief engineer, has captured moviegoers' imaginations for decades by outfitting the secret agent with the snazziest of spy gadgets: fake fingerprints, an underwater breather, toxic pens and killer umbrellas.

But reality might be catching up with the fictional spy.

Take, for example, the self-destructing DVD.

These discs play the information that is stored on them for a set amount of time -- eight to 60 hours. Then -- poof! -- the content mysteriously self-destructs.

"It fits the theme of James Bond very well," said Alan Blaustein, head of Flexplay, a two-year-old start-up in New York City that has patented the technology.

Q sends missive

The latest Bond flick, "Die Another Day," used Flexplay DVDs to show reporters scenes from the movie before it was released.

The discs included a letter from Q warning recipients: "Once you remove the DVD from its packaging, you only have 36 hours to watch it."

After the time has elapsed, Q's letter advises, the disc "then makes a nice martini coaster."

How do the discs work? Well, Blaustein was secretive about that. "Chemistry technology" is all he would say.

But watching the discs turn a deep purple color after the allotted 36-hour interval yielded an important clue, as did the company's Web site: "Because DVDs are optically read, the clarity and transmission of light through the disc's surface are critical to playback performance."

Getting a taste

Blaustein said the self-destructing discs are a good way to give customers a quick taste of music, movies or television shows. The discs, which are copy-protected, entice buyers to plop down money for the non-disappearing versions of the content, he said.

The technology also could be used by software companies trying to dissuade computer owners from illegally sharing the same version of an install disc.

Flexplay discs are so new that they've been used for only one other promotion. In October, a music CD was handed out to MTV Latin America fans.

Mum is the word

Where the company will go from here is top secret, Blaustein said. He's working on a number of deals. "Nothing I can talk about right now," he said.

But he's not worried that reality will catch up with James Bond's scriptwriters.

"Hollywood ... is 50 or 60 steps ahead of everybody else," he said.

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