Trope-a-Day: The Game Come To Life

The Game Come To Life: Doesn’t happen literally, but perhaps a little played with inasmuch as there are augmentality games – designed to integrate seamlessly with the real world and make use of real-world elements during gameplay – which blur the boundary more than a little. (Enough so that a number of them have been manipulated by various sponsoring entities to achieve real-world goals. Amazing what people will do for progress towards an achievement…)

And then, of course, there was the Lord Blackfall incident.

Trope-a-Day: The Alternet

The Alternet: Lots of them, if you will, independently invented on lots and lots of worlds. (The Empire’s version is the Dataweave, operating on IIP and mesh network principles.) And then there’s the extranet, which is the Internet-of-Internets that links all of these internets together, although in practice everyone refers to all the networks that aren’t their specific local one as “the extranet”.

It supports most of the same functionality and more (say, pervasive augmented reality, mindcasting, and exomemory transfer, to name three examples), although with certain limitations that the Internet generally doesn’t have to worry about, like light-lag [and the associated possibilities of fun with ansibles] and planetary alignments…

Trope-a-Day: Unlimited Wardrobe

Unlimited Wardrobe: Played mostly straight – the flexibility is not unlimited, after all – by smart clothing, which can offer a variety of style modifications (via inbuilt MEMS), color changes, and other self-reshaping properties on the fly.  (And, of course, at home there are cornucopia machines.)  Played entirely straight by virtual clothing (which consists of an AR projection over a neutral gray jumpsuit or spraysuit, so long as onlookers are subscribing to the public v-tag channel and your coding budget is adequate.

Trope-a-Day: Notice This

Notice This: Played straight in reality, what with augmented-reality interfaces.  Your neural lace, VII, or wearable will be more than happy to highlight things you either need to notice, or that you’ve told it you want to notice, or whose v-tags indicate that everyone should notice, and project your route for you as a nice glowy line, and use chimybeepy audio cues for when they’re not conveniently in your field of vision.

For it is convenient, and plays well with Stat-O-Vision.

Trope-a-Day: Stat-O-Vision

Stat-O-Vision: Augmented reality – hooked up to scanning equipment, civilian v-tags, mugshot databases, and suchlike provides exactly this for everyone, all nearly formatted with architect’s lines extending into secondary visual fields and more sophisticated UI systems for common stats (see Aura Vision for one example), with all the necessary basic hardware built right into your head.

Not just for fighting strength, of course – you can get, depending on what information you have access to, everything from their personal profile to medical data to reputation scores to current geolocation to twitter-equivalent feed and blog to IM/texting window this way, and/or hyperlink (“sopholink”) directly to them.

Trope-a-Day: In Space Everyone Can See Your Face

In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: Averted, for all the practical reasons mentioned.  In practice, augmented reality v-tags – actually, the standard public identity tag – tell you who is who, and those who want to can use supplementary v-tags to indicate their current emotional state, etc., and perform other expressive tasks.

(The running lights on spacecraft also mentioned?  There for close orbital operations and for the benefit of the crew when they have to go clamber about on the hull to do maintenance, including such things as delineating the – very hot – radiative striping so you don’t accidentally step on it.  You can turn it off quite happily outside those circumstances, although a lot of captains don’t simply because with the energy budget of your average modern spacecraft1, there’s really no point in making the trivial saving of turning the lights off.  Besides, someone might have a telescope aimed at you, and programming this gorgeous paint job wasn’t cheap, y’know?)


1. i.e., running on fusion, with thus-generous power budget. This was not the historical case back in the fuel-cells-and-solar-panels days.

Trope-a-Day: Goggles Do Something Unusual

Goggles Do Something Unusual: Since medical technology has long since adapted to the point of being able to fix just about any eye problem imaginable, any time you see glasses on someone’s face – and there are periods of history where you will see this quite a lot – you might suspect that they’re there to serve some other function.

You would be right.  Usually, that function’s just acting as I/O for a wearable or other PAD devices, which means that they combine a head-up display with stereo cameras (these enable augmented reality, freeze-frame, enhance and rewind, among other things; and even when neural laces replaced wearables, a lot of people kept them around as a popular way to lifelog), microphones, eye tracking, and ability to participate in a wireless PAD (such that they can communicate with your wearable, but also with any other networked devices you might be carrying, which is probably all of them; your gun, for example, certainly uses them as a scope) including a gateway to the greater network and all its facilities.

Of course, technological ingenuity being what it is, there could be anything from a T-ray scanner through a general-EM reader to a full SQUID in there, sensorily speaking, or a couple of nanomissiles or a few BIPS of processing power concealed in the frame.  It’s really best not to assume what the chap with the glasses might or might not be capable of seeing.

Seeing the Unseen

When I come home from my journeys abroad, I like to render all the layers visible, and spend a while just watching the world.

We are used to all things coming wrapped in information.  People are ringed by their p-tags – identity, claims of affiliation, reputation haloes shining or shadowy, current persona and embodiment, lifelog privacy status, projected-integrity mind-models, a dozen sopholinks to their personal memeweaves, socialgroups, game avatars.  The air is full of the sparkles of the public annotation and contract channels; a thousand thousand microblogs and notes and pictures and geolinks, and small deals and favors for the taking.  Facades from buildings to clothing are dressed up in augmented-reality shimmers.  Alternate views from dozens of cameras and sensors are yours for the asking.  Advertisements rewrite themselves to your preferences.

Almost every object around us self-knows, announcing what it is, whose it is, what it’s for, how to use it, of what it is made.  Roads know where they lead, and what is to be found along the way.  Books know the stories they tell, people’s opinions of them, offer copies of themselves to guest readers.  Paper can read itself, money can count itself.  Glasses know what drink they contain, and when they need refilling.  Food declares its suitability for your species, its contents, its freshness.  Every box can enumerate its contents – at least to its owner.  And even those objects that do not know themselves are still known; any interface worth its price can tag every passing plant with its species and uses, name all the stars in the sky, or paint the air itself with its pressure, temperature, constituents…  Even the dataweave below all this shows itself to the watching eye; its linkages glowing from infra to ultra with traffic from cell to cell, themselves surrounded with transparent wireless haloes.

It’s quite the light show.

We ignore most of it, of course.  You could drown in all the information the ‘weave shouts at you every moment of every day, however enhanced your mind.  But it’s always there, always available.  You always know that you can know.

Like air, like energy, like a handy cornucopia – you only miss it when it’s gone.

– from “Walking the Worlds”, Silvis Kelmaren’s travel blog

Trope-a-Day: Super Senses

Super Senses: Naturally, with various enhancements here and there, with the new Imperial baseline involving enhancing vision to include a substantial chunk of infrared and ultraviolet (everything from 500 nm through <300 nm), better imaging resolution, low-light sensing and thermal imaging, better sensitivity to motion, angle, and range, and – which so many of these miss – flare protection (actually, they all come with overload protection); hearing gets better amplitude sensitivity (to -50 dB) and frequency sensitivity (16-35,000 Hz), direction-finding, perfect pitch, and a sense of rhythm; smell gets closer to the bloodhound’s nasal skill, and taste likewise; touch enhanced with greater sensor density and acuity (and this, incidentally, is why people pay such attention to the comfort and texture of clothing and furniture); balance, rotation and acceleration senses are no longer troubled by rotating frames of reference or microgravity; pain detection is gateable; and the time sense becomes much more accurate.

(Parallel-type enhancements apply to species which were endowed with different senses by nature, of course.)

Of course, that’s just the existing senses.  Then come things like the entirely new sense for static and dynamic EM fields, synthetic additional visual fields and auditory channels for augmented-reality information, and senses operating through the Transcendent hyperconsciousness permitting the recall of memories never experienced and the direct sensing of nature, meaning, utility, entelechy, and obligation…

Trope-a-Day: Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality: Ubiquitous, to the point of being built into everyone’s brain.  Includes mediated reality, in which physical-world objects are adjusted before the brain gets to sense them; mingled reality, in which a virtual realm and a physical room coexist as the same space, and physical and virtual objects behave as peers; and hypertextual reality, which goes one step further and feeds the information about objects (rather than displaying it as tags) directly into one’s brain, so that you remember the details about them without having to learn them in the first place.

Also rather notable in this area is the synthetic sense technology that persuades the brain to provide additional visual fields and auditory channels in parallel to the natural ones to display information on/in.