Gear: Sensors


  • Camera, Basic: A simple optical phased array camera operating over a spectral range that typically includes the visible band and possibly near infrared. It has some spectral resolution, giving color vision roughly equivalent to that of a Human. If synched to a computer, the computer can use the hyperspectral sensing capabilities of the glasses for programs such as Sentinel and Expert Systems. In addition, the computer can capture 3-D images and video, and provide image stabilization and functions equivalent to an HUD if a sapient can seen the image.

    This camera is a chip approximately 1 cm² in size. It is commonly integrated directly into hand computers, robots, and access points; or it can be made to be attached to surfaces with reversible gecko adhesive. Note that the phased array patch looks like a dark spot, not a lens – people of the Verge think leses are old-fashioned (or at least retro, for those trying to make an artistic statement – the lens equivalent of a basic camera would cost three times as much as have ten times the (admittedly negligible) mass).

    Mass: 1 g
    Price: $2

  • Camera, Improved: This camera has all the abilities of a basic camera, but with increased bandwidth and spectral resolution. It provides hyperspectral imaging across the visible, near ultraviolet, near infrared, short-wave infrared, and mid infrared range; thermographic imaging (FLIR) in the far infrared, some degree of night vision, glare suppression, flash protection, and adjustable magnification between ×1 and ×5. In game terms, provides Senses: Night Vision level 3 and Senses: Infravision, Senses: Focusing Vision level between 0 and 5 (with a restricted field of view when using Focusing Vision), Senses: Glare Suppression level 5, as well as flash suppression. If synched to a computer, it gives the computer the effect of Senses: Heightened Vision level 3 in addition to the usual effects.

    Mass: 1 g
    Price: $20

  • Camera, Professional: A camera that uses a larger light-gathering optical phased array than the basic camera, for crisper, higher resolution images and more light gathering power. In game terms, it has Senses: Night Vision level 8 and Senses: Focusing Vision level between 0 and 14 in addition to all the usual capabilities of an improved camera.

    A professional camera of this level has a 5 cm × 5 cm optical aperture. It can be put on any device large enough to fit it, or it can be a stand-alone product about the size of a playing card (although it is usually wirelessly synched to a computer's AI assistant).

    Mass: 25 g
    Price: $150

  • Chemsniffer: A sophisticated "electronic nose" that samples the air and surfaces its pickup is placed against for chemical signatures. In addition to detecting and identifying most chemicals present in the environment, it can be used to identify living organisms (even individuals) by their distinctive chemical signature. It is often used to assist with tracking by picking up scent trails. In game terms, it acts as if it had Senses: Discriminatory Smell and Senses: Heightened Smell level 1.

    Mass: 0.5 kg
    Price: $50

  • Electronic Stethoscope: Gives Senses: Enhanced Hearing 6 for tasks where the stethescope head is placed against the item you want to hear.

    Mass: 0.15 kg
    Price: $10

  • Fiberscope: A fiber optic cable leading to a camera, with display. Allows looking into tight spots or around corners.

    Mass: 0.5 kg
    Price: $20

  • Lidar, Navigational: A lidar unit rasters a short-wave infrared laser into the environment and sees things based on how the light bounces back. This allows a synched computer to generate a 3-D image of the environment without any ambient light (depth information is determined by how long in takes for the return flash to hit the sensor after it is emitted).

    This unit is specialized for autonomous navigation, and can detect objects without penalty out to 200 meters away over a 120° arc in front of the sensor. The lidar scan can be focused more tightly on objects of interest in order to increase its range – use the same rules as for multiscanners. Lidar can scan past foliage by measuring the return pulses that get through gaps in the leaves; apply a -1 to light level for every 5 meters of foliage in the way (equivalent to reducing the base range by 2 RS).

    If desired, the wavelength of the light can be varied from the standard short-wave infrared to the mid-infrared (with a reduction of -3 to -5 to Resolution, but it may allow you to pick up different features), throughout the visible range (+2 to Resolution for red, orange, or yellow, +3 for green, blue, or violet), or different colors of short-wave or near infrared (changing resolution by between -1 to +1). Using different colors allows you to build up a full-color or even hypersepctral image of the scanned object or area. This is often used to reconstruct a full color 3-D model of objects.

    Navigation lidar is common enough on vehicles and robots that Perception +0 software is available for free with this sensor.

    Scan: +10
    Sensitivity: +6
    Base Range: 200 meters
    Resolution: +22

    Power: 7 W
    Mass: 50 g
    Price: $20

  • Lidar, Survey: A longer-range version of navigational lidar. It is valued for its ability to detect structures, stationary vehicles, and ground topography even underneath foliage canopies.

    Scan: +16
    Sensitivity: +10
    Base Range: 5 km
    Resolution: +26

    Power: 400 W
    Mass: 0.5 kg
    Price: $200

  • Lidar, Quantum: Quantum lidar uses quantum-entangled photons in its lidar beams, negating any effect of invisibility surfaces. This is an option that can be applied to any lidar sensor, increasing the price.

    Price: ×10

  • Microphone, basic: A simple microphone that picks up sound signals in the audible and ultrasonic range. If synched to a computer's AI assistant, it can be used for natural language voice recognition.

    Mass: 1 g
    Price: $0.2

  • Microphone, professional: A high-sensitivity microphone that has the effect of Senses: Directional Hearing 8, Senses: Discriminatory Hearing, Senses: Heightened Hearing 3, Senses: Infrasonic Hearing, and Senses: Ultrasonic Hearing. It otherwise acts as a basic microphone.

    Mass: 0.1 kg
    Price: $20

  • Multiscanner, Portable: A broad spectrum phased array radar antenna the size of a large book. It can scan a 120° arc at a time. It offers several modes of operation:

    • Terahertz (THz) radar provides relatively high resolution imaging, capable of making out features as small as 0.05° (a 1:1000 aspect ratio cone) or resolving a Human into a vague fuzzy shape at distances as far as 300 meters, with increasing detail at closer range. The THz waves can see through thin barriers and clothes to spot concealed objects, and provide some degree of chemical sensitivity. This gives a +2 bonus to distinguish objects of significantly different density or composition from another background object (not cumulative with the usual bonus for detecting conductive objects).

      However, while the THz waves can penetrate normal clothing and other thin, dry, non-conductive layers to some extent, they suffer a -1 to apparent light level for every millimeter thickness of a layer between the emitter and the object being scanned and the scanned object and the receiver. If the emitter and receiver are the same instrument (the usual case), this means a -2 to apparent light level for every mm of barrier thickness between the scanner and object being imaged. If the layer material is damp or wet, double the light level loss. For convenience, row shift the effective base range by twice the light level penalty for the layer being scanned (so scanning through a barrier that imposes a -2 light level penalty gives a base range of 15 m in relatively dry air).

      Furthermore, THz waves are readily absorbed by the atmosphere, giving a -1 to illumination level every 20 meters from the emitter to the illuminated area and every 20 meters from the area being imaged to the receiver (this decreases to 10 meters in both directions in humid, rainy, foggy, or misty weather). If scanning beyond the base range, there is a -1 to detection for every two range bands and for every 20 (or 10) meters.

      Base Range: 50 m (30 m in humid, rainy, foggy, or misty weather)
      Resolution: +17

    • Millimeter (mm) radar provides good imaging capabilities with much lower attenuation penalties compared to THz radar. It can resolve features as small as 0.5° (a 1:100 aspect ratio cone), enough to see a Human or other Size +0 object as a fuzzy shape at a distance of 30 meters and can even make out Size +0 objects as mere featureless blobs at 100 meters (although it will not be able to tell what they are). The mm waves are attenuated by -1 light level every 15 kilometers of dry air; 3 kilometers of rain, mist, or fog; 1 cm of dry, non-conductive material; or 1 mm of damp or wet non-conductive materials. This allows it to see through residential walls, clothes, and non-conductive containers. The mm waves give a +2 bonus to detect objects of a significantly different density than their surroundings (not cumulative with the bonus for detecting conductive objects), or water-containing objects against a dry background. However, the mm waves cannot distinguish material composition and have no bonus to detect objects of different composition from the background.

      Base Range: 4 km (1500 m in humid, rainy, foggy, or misty weather)
      Resolution: +10

    • X-band radar has about 5° of angular resolution (a 1:10 aspect ratio cone), capable of resolving a human as a fuzzy shape at distances of 3 meters or less, or detecting a Human as an unformed fuzzy blob at distances of 10 meters. However, it can sense through thicker walls and is not affected by amospheric conditions. When viewing through dry, solid objects, the signal is attenuated by -1 light level for every 3 cm of dry, non-conductive material or 1 cm of damp or wet material.

      Base Range: 4 km
      Resolution: +3

    • S-band radar has 15° resolution (a 1:4 aspect ratio cone) – it can resolve a Human into a fuzzy shape at a distance of only 1 meter, or detecting Humans as indistinct blobs at 4 meters.. However, it can sense through walls with little attenuation and is not affected by amospheric conditions. The waves are sufficiently penetrating that it can even see some distance into the ground: it can look down through tens of meters of dry soil, sand, rock, or ice to can pick up conductive pipes, wires, and other metal or superconducting objects; void, cracks, and caves; water table and moisture distribution, and get some basic information on water salinity and rough composition of the soil (although wet soil or sand can restrict the scanning depth to a few tens of centimeters).

      S-band can even "see through" people or animals to detect the Doppler-shifted return signal from periodic motions necessary to maintain life, such as hearbeat and breathing. These "life signs" are located to within a 1:4 aspect ratio cone. The Doppler signature of sapients, animals, and objects with moving parts give a +2 bonus to detect against a background. This is cumulative with the bonus to detect conductive objects as long as the moving conductive parts are on the outside rather than shielded inside the conductive exterior.

      Base Range: 4 km
      Resolution: +0

    No form of radar can scan through anything that is conductive, including metals or superconductors. Even a thin layer of metal foil will block the scanning beam. However, conductive objects reflect the beam strongly, giving a +4 bonus to detect conductive objects against a non-conductive background.

    The Doppler shift of signals returned by moving objects also offer contrast to background clutter – objects that are moving at a significantly different speed toward or away from the scanner than anything in the background can be detected as if there were no background, and even at lower speeds motion is usually good for a +2 bonus for detection against a background. The Doppler effect also allows precise determination of the speeds of detected objects toward or away from the scanner.

    Radar detects the range to objects as well as their transverse extent. In addition to giving a precise distance to anything detected, it means that backgroud clutter only applies to things that are close to the target object in all three dimensions – stuff that is well behind or in front of a target object can be easily distinguished based on its greater range and does not count as background.

    The resolution of radar can be increased by physically moving the receiver and using synthetic aperture processing. Waving the receiver around over a distance of your Reach will add +3 + your Size to the Resolution score. Physically criss-crossing or zig-zaging over the area to be scanned increases the Resolution for non-moving objects by +3 + the range score of the distance moved (if you can only move in one dimension transverse to the target object, the resolution only applies to features in that dimension. That is, if you are moving along the ground while trying to scan something that is also on the ground, you increase the resolution for horizontal features but not vertical features).

    A radar scan can be focused on one area of interest to increase the brightness. Decreasing the scanning angle to 60° will increase the light level by +1 in the illuminated area. A 1:4 aspect ratio cone for the scan will increase the light level by +2; and another +1 for every 4 RS to the aspect ratio of the cone (i.e. +3 light levels for a 1:15 cone, +4 for a 1:50 cone, and so on). The limit is that the cone can be no tighter than the scanning mode's resolution (and if you are at that limit, you won't be able to make out any details anyway).

    Gummis, Mants, and Squirm use aedar-based multiscanners rather than radar. These use affector waves for detection. Aedar is not blocked by metal, but is blocked by active deflector screens. Treat a deflector as equivalent to metal for radar. Aedar is not attenuated by the atmosphere, making THz aedar much longer range – give THz aedar a base range of 4 km, and ignore the effects of weather. Similarly, moisture content has no effect on aedar, treat all materials as dry. Aedar also has a +2 to detect any active affector-based phenomenon, field, or equipment. otherwise, treat aedar multiscanners the same as radar multiscanners.

    Scan: +11
    Sensitivity: +14

    Power: 100 W
    Mass: 1.5 kg
    Price: $350

  • Multiscanner, Vehicular: A larger vesion of the portable multiscanner, with an antenna about 2 meters across. It has the same operating modes as a portable multiscanner, but better range and resolution. Unless otherwise noted, it functions in the same way as a portable multiscanner.

    • Terahertz (THz) radar has an angular resolution of 0.008° (a 1:7000 aspect ratio cone), which can resolve fine details on a Human or other Size +0 object out to far beyond the range where its radiation is attenuated by the air into indetectability.

      Base Range: 100 m (50 m in humid, rainy, foggy, or misty weather)
      Resolution: +23

    • Millimeter (mm) radar can resolve features as small as 0.08° (a 1:700 aspect ratio cone), and can make out a Human or other Size +0 object as a fuzzy shape at a distance of 200 meters and image Size +0 objects as mere featureless blobs at 700 meters.

      Base Range: 20 km (7 km in humid, rainy, foggy, or misty weather)
      Resolution: +16

    • X-band radar has about 0.8° of angular resolution (a 1:70 aspect ratio cone), capable of resolving a human as a fuzzy shape at distances of 20 meters or less, or detecting a Human as an unformed fuzzy blob at distances of 70 meters.

      Base Range: 100 km
      Resolution: +9

    • S-band radar has 2° resolution (a 1:30 aspect ratio cone) – it can resolve a Human into a fuzzy shape at a distance of 7 meters, or detect Humans as indistinct blobs at 30 meters.

      Base Range: 100 km
      Resolution: +6

    Scan: +15
    Sensitivity: +20

    Power: 1.5 kW
    Mass: 20 kg
    Price: $4000

  • Multiscanner, Quantum: A quantum multiscanner emits beams of quantum-entangled radar or microwave photons, limiting any radar stealth penalty to no more than -2 and eliminating any benefit of an invisibility suit. This is an option that can be applied to any radar sensor, increasing the price.

    Price: ×10

  • Parabolic Microphone: A basic microphone (see above) with a parabolic dish that can be used with any microphone to focus dstant sounds. It has Senses:Directional hearing 10 and Senses: Focusing Hearing 10.

    Mass: 0.5 kg
    Price: $2.5

  • Portal Scanner: A gate or doorway that scans people and objects as they go past. 360° multiscanning, weak-field MRI, and backscatter x-ray tomography provide a detailed 3-D reconstruction of objects in the portal and analysis of the isotopic and chemical composition of individual regions and voxels. Gamma and neutron detectors also search for radioactive material. The portal gives a +2 quality bonus for scanning.
    • The multiscanner capability (wideband radar) has the same bonuses to detect conductive and concealed objects, objects of different density or composition, and moving and living objects as a handheld multiscanner, which add to the quality bonus. Like a handhed multiscanner, it cannot scan through metal, other conductors, or superconductors.
    • Weak-field MRI can scan through thin metal and other conductors (3 mm or less), but not through superconductors. It can provide detailed chemical analysis and can identify many isotopes. It gives a +2 bonus to detect objects with a different chemistry than the surroundings, including chemical explosives, cumulative with the quality bonus; and can identify the chemistry of objects it detects. It can also read the energy stored in a SMES (by detecting the strain on the support backing material).
    • Backscatter x-ray tomography is not stopped by superconductors and can see through several millimeters of metal. It gives a +2 bonus to detect objects of significantly different density than the background object, cumulative with the quality bonus.
    • Causality scanners detect comm-grade wormholes connected to the world's comm wormhole network, or which have their other end within or near the volume of space encompassed by the world's comm network.
    • If several modifiers for different scanning modes apply, circle-add them (using the ⊕ operator) – two +2 modifiers give +4, three +2 modifiers give +5, a +2 and a +4 modifier gives +5, and two +2 and a +4 modifier gives a +6.

    If no sapients are detected in the scan volume, the portal can use more agressive active interrogation with penetrating beams of multispectral x-rays, gamma rays, and neutrons (using transmission tomography, phase-contrast x-ray tomography, neutron scatter tomography, gamma-ray nuclear resonance fluorescence, photo-nuclear reactions, and induced fission) for an additional +2 bonus to detect hidden material of different composition from the surrounding object, +4 bonus to detect heavy metals, and a +8 bonus to detect fissile or fissionable material. The penetrating radiation can pass through tens of centimeters of heavy metals. The cost is exposure to ionizing radiation. The radiation Dose for prompt effects is only -20, but the risk of chronic effects years down the road, inclduing cancer and birth defects, makes the gamma-neutron scans generally unsuitable for routine inspection of sapient biological organisms. Exceptions are made when there is a medical need that justifies the risk.

    • Passenger Screening Portal: A portal scanner with an opening the size of a standard doorway, and a 2-meter passageway. People walk through and are scanned in-motion. This model does not come with active penetrating radiation scanners.

      Mass: 200 kg
      Price: $2 k

    • Baggage Screening Portal: A 2-meter long tunnel with a 1 meter × 0.8 meter opening. Baggage is placed on a convery belt and carried through the scanner.

      Mass: 200 kg
      Price: $3 k

    • Cargo Screening Portal: A large portal for screening intermodal containers, with a 3 meter wide × 4 meter high opening. One intermodal container can be passed through at a time, the container can remain attached to its truck or train car. These are often employed at shipping ports and wormhole termini, and road checkpoints will often have one or more of these models to accomodate larger vehicles.

      Mass: 5 tons.
      Price: $150 k

    • Traffic Screening Portal: A portal at a checkpoint on a road. A single portal covers one lane of traffic. A vehicle enters the portal, parks, and the portal passes over the vehicle during the scan. Multiple units are needed to scan more than one lane at a time. If standard scans cannot penetrate parts of the vehicle, or if regions of anomalous high density are discovered, passengers will be politely ordered to exit the vehicle for a scan with penetrating radiation.

      Mass: 2 tons.
      Price: $60 k

  • Radiation Detectors: While there are many exotic varieties of radiation, five stand out as the most likely to be encountered in normal operations: gamma rays, thermal neutrons, fast neutrons, radioactive contamination, and high dose rate areas.

    • Radiation Imaging Spectrometer: A combined gamma/neutron scatter camera, a radiation imaging spectrometer detects the energy of highly penetrating radiation (gamma rays and fast neutrons) and can build up an image of the radiation source. It is about the size of a can of soup. It can localize a penetrating radiation source within approximately 4° (a 1:15 aspect ratio cone), and can be used to capture fuzzy images of extended sources at close range. The spectral resolution allows discrimination between different radiation sources (for example, determining the isotope or mix of isotopes that is emitting the gamma rays, which in turn could provide clues as to its intended use and where it came from).

      Gamma rays are produced after radioactive decay, during nuclear fission or antimatter annihilation, or when neutron or charged particle radiation goes through matter. Figure that gamma rays have a -1 RS to their signal after passing through 10 cm of water, plastic, or hydrocarbons; 3 cm of rock, glass, aluminum, or similar materials; 1 cm of common metals like steel or copper; 4 mm of heavy metals like lead, tungsten, or gold; or 50 meters of air.

      Neutrons are not as common as gamma rays, but they are produced in fission and fusion rections, annihilation of antimatter with any element other than hydrogen, and nuclear reactions when matter is bombarded by high-energy particles. For imaging, figure that neutrons have a -1 RS to their signal for every 3 cm of condensed material (solid or liquid) that they go through, or for every 50 meters of air. But since neutrons mostly scatter, the scattered neutrons can be detected even if their original source can't be localized or imaged – apply -1 RS to the detection signal for 10 cm of water, plastic, or hydrocarbons; 20 cm of light elements like rock, glass, or aluminum; 30 cm of common metals; or 50 cm of heavy metals.

      Resolution: +5
      Mass: 2 kg
      Price: $150

    • Dose Rate Monitor: Sometimes you are more worried about an alarm that you are entering a high radiation area than finding the source or analyzing the kinds of radiation produced. A dose rate monitor measures the general amount of radiation present in the environment. By default, it sounds an alarm when this exceeds a pre-set threshold, but if synched with a computer's AI assistant it is capable of more nuanced responses.

      Mass: 0.01 kg
      Price: $1

    • Contamination Detector: Radioactive particles generally decay by emitting an energetic electron (beta particle) or helium nucleus (alpha particle). Neither beta nor alpha particles are very penetrating, but if the radioactive particles get into your body by ingestion, inhallation, or via wounds they can be bad news. A contamination detector detects the alpha and beta particles, to alert you of areas to be avoided, places that need decontamination, or that your clothes and equipment are contaminated and need to be removed and either disposed of or decontaminated. The detector needs to be within a meter of a contaminated surface to detect beta particles, or within a few centimeters to detect alpha particles. This is a handheld device, appearing as a 30 cm long, 10 cm wide paddle that is swept over the surfaces being investigated.

      Mass: 0.5 kg
      Price: $50

  • Sensor Glasses: A set of glasses, goggles, or a visor that provide a holographic display for the wearer for the video image taken by an attached phased array camera. They provide an HUD for any equipment synched to the same computer.

    Mass: 0.1 kg
    Price: $10 + the cost of the camera.

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