Following the last post on the type of armors presented in our imaginaries, we now dive into a specific point : the types of informations that are produced by the armor. Our first question is again to check if the imaginaries are relevant (i.e, an armor that does not produce any information at all, even in order to pilot it, is obviously not relevant). The second one is to see if some sources are more relevant than others : we could for example postulate that an armor that allows for easy communication between the soldiers would be interesting.
The graph below presents a distribution of the types of informations produced by the armors according to the source:
- Enemy information represents the fact that the armor offers some type of informations regarding the opponent : location, speed, type of weapons etc.
- Environment represents any informations that gives informations to the soldier regarding his physical environment : temperature, wind etc.
- Group information represents all the soldier’s team’s data : level of health, geolocation, ammo left etc.
- Finally, the biological feedback is … biological feedback from the user. Basically, heart beat, live analysis, poisoning etc.
The first thing that we can see is that the comics are offering a much less detailed vision of this specific aspect. We do not have any specific explanation for that, but it seems that comics offer less « first point of view » drawings that the animations, manga and of course video games do. Keeping this in mind, if we had to design a GUI or a HUD for a real life usage, we would be looking less at comics than other sources.
More interesting is the major differences that exist between comics and the other mediums regarding the « group information » data. The mangas offer many descriptions of situations where the heroes have detailed informations regarding their team members. Ghost in the Shell offers that every two or three pages. The virtual environment that almost everyone has access to in that manga being a key element of that capacity.
Interestingly, it is also fairly detailed in the literature, maybe because it allows the narrator to talk about other people than the hero in the same sequence.
The Lazarus Wars is a great example of that trick : we often follow Lazarus, the hero while he fights aliens and checks on his teammate’s health and situation. This was already at use in Robert Heinlein’s iconic Starship Troopers. However, we could start to drawn some evolutionary arcs, from a rather analogic mode of dialogue in older stories, each team-mate communicating through a single channel and the voice being the main media; while GTS offer a more invasive approach. The main character is literally surrounded by avatars talking to here. In some strips, the voices are then materialized helping her to sustain a richer dialogue with a more complex team. In other words, the way data is materialized could be the red line to follow on our interpretative pathway.
Focusing on a less common media, the biological feedback, the video games seem thento be the most interesting medium. It seems fairly obvious in the sense that a player is supposed to deal with his health if he wants to manage hero. Thequestion here is the true potential of the visions that are presented: we are obviously not going to put in real life a heads up display to a soldier and share a life bar that will detail him how much energy he has left. This example shows that the quantitative approach is not enough. There might be numerous examples of biological feedback in video games, but how many are really interesting ? Put differently, we would have to « excuse » them in order to find better approaches.
Some classic interaction could be a good starting point here. Why not adding a sense of being hurt (the screen becomes red and a nervous sound occurs) when your avatar is hurt, like in Doomlike games? To a certain extent, video games create an environment with no pain or body feedback, leading the player to rely only on augmented data. Knowing that the physiological body sometimes shut up consequences of injuries due to adrenaline, it might be relevant to have a real time information about body state in order to better evaluate current risks hidden by the stress.
The same should be envisioned considering the enemies and the best way to fight them knowing their actual level of health. However strange this biological feedback could be, it is a good start to add a fresh look at this issue of enhanced soldier.