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Starship Controls

As the races crawled off the surface of their respective planets in primitive spacecraft, their control schemes were crude. Instrument clusters were hardwired directly to the systems they monitored. There was often little interpretation between a system and the buttons and switches that controlled it. Often, many separate controls needed to be manipulated in order to achieve simple responses from the crude craft that carried the races into space. The original systems that controlled ships were inefficient and complex.

Very quickly, as the races achieved more mastery over and confidence in their craft, they introduced more integrated control schemes into their craft. Translative instrument cluster were developed... "fly by wire" integrated computer control between the activated control and the system. Controls became more intuitive and practical, with a single control or cluster being used to achieve a desired result rather than a single step toward a goal. Ships became more responsive, systems easier to activate and control under duress.

Fly by wire control also allowed controls to move away from crude buttons and switches that suffered from mechanical failure and required frequent maintenance. Touch screens quickly became commonplace, even in the early years of the Ancient period. They allowed users to custom configure their control clusters and even assume control of other stations without switching location. The redundant routing of multiple signal paths made them less susceptible to failure than their old mechanical counterparts.

Another methodology for configurable fly by wire controls was the Projected Interpretive system. Low powered lasers would project an outline of controls onto a blank surface. Crew members could access the controls by touching the projected controls, while scanners and sensors would pick up the location of their fingers and motion of their hands.

Dactyl Interpretation
Dactyl Interpretation was a very significant progress in the control system of starships, devised in early Archaic times. A small pull-down monocle, visor, glasses configuration was used to provide visual feedback to a user. Cameras or scanners located around the starship or on the user themselves would monitor the motions of the user's hands and fingers to accept commands. Random movements and accidental issuance of commands was eliminated through strict protocols, intense training, or requiring crew to be in a certain location before issuing commands. In any event, Dactyl Interpretation allowed quick, intricate, and personal control of systems making starship control as much a language as a technical process. It allowed crew to control a ship from anywhere they went, not just limiting their control to a "bridge" location. Emergencies could be dealt with quickly and remotely by the most capable staff.

One of the most important technologies to develop in the Prodigal Void, essentially defining the barrier between what we think of as Archaic and Antiquity, was the Neural Implant and Interface, often colloquially referred to as "Fly-by-Neuron". Through nanotechnology, a microscopically thin transmitter/processor network is constructed inside the users head and/or shoulder. Some models build outside the skull, some inside, and a few, for the hardcore user, build themselves in and around the users brain, augmenting and replacing pieces of the host. The host sends and receives communication, processing, and other information directly between the host brain and external biocomputer networks. The host receives a Heads Up Display fed directly to their visual cortex, receiving IntelligNet feeds, information from sensors mounted on the host, and broadcasting control information to their assigned systems.

Most modern starships are controlled through neural implant. The main broadcast/receiver and processors are mounted within a sparsely appointed "bridge" in the center of the ship which can be occupied and sealed in emergency but is generally unnecessary in daily operation of the ship. Called by a variety of monikers including Bridge, Control Room, Safe, or Stand, the command area of the ship generally consists of the transmit pedestal, several chairs, and emergency backup hand controls and screens. In normal operation of the ship, the entire crew is linked to each other and the resources of the ship. Each crewmember has redundant duties that reinforce and reassure the operations of the others, all at the speed of thought. Crew can pass back and force not just crude messages but also emotional impulses and sights and sensations which creates a very tight and interactive environment. The crew receives information from the ship and its sensor networks directly to the sensory sections of their brains. Essentially, they see what the ship sees, hear what the ship hears, and smell what the ship smells. Conversely, the crew is able to manoeuvre the ship with a thought, controlling its systems as easily as moving their own arms. Strict control protocols are implimented to ensure the proper system is being controlled by the proper host and that random thoughts and sneezes don't accidentally lead to disaster. Regardless of some early hysteria regarding the system, it has proven to be one of the safest and most foolproof control schemes devised.

A large amount of equipment, particularly within the Prodigal Void, is linked to neural control. Most vehicles, many buildings, and a lot of consumer appliances are controlled directly by thought broadcast through the IntelligNet.

Neuralinks have significant and varied impact on traditional positions on starships and in society in general. Gunners on starships can sense, functionally see and hear and anticipate the presence of targets around their ship. They can think out, in their mind, complex firing patterns and conditional responses to changing situations which biocomputers can prioritize and respond to, adjusting targeting priorities, weapons configurations, and lead based on the gunners' subconscious opinions of target priorities and shot qualities.