Setting - COMPs

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A combination of fashion and function, COMPs are wearable computers that allow users to take their personal data and access the Internet wherever they go. Much like the old laptops, PDAs, and tablets, COMPs pack much of the same hardware as a desktop unit into a smaller space, sacrificing some power and expandability for portability.

The general layout of a COMP is split into two major pieces: the wrist-set and the headset. The wrist-set is the main body of any COMP. It contains the power button, keyboard, storage, chipsets, and other components required for the COMP to run. COMP keyboards vary from model to model, but the general design remains rugged and able to go for years without maintenance. Some models - particularly older ones - have a cover to prevent accidental keypresses, while newer models have moved towards flattening the keys to reduce motion. Instead of reducing the keys in size so much as to make them useless in a tight situation, COMPs have turned to exploiting the eyepiece to display a virtual keyboard, seemingly at a comfortable height in front of the user, for typing text, leaving the function keys physical for maximum reliability.

Internally, COMPs are fairly consistent. All feature internal high-capacity solid-state drives, capable of retaining data with no loss despite repeated jostling, impact, and exposure. Most also feature a slot to insert a removable drive for easy transfer of data and system recovery. Wireless modems come standard, as do sets of ports to allow peripherals to be hooked up. Each COMP also has a set of internal accelerometers that let the user control the on-screen mouse cursor by the moving the wrist-set. As can be expected, the memory modules and chipsets for basic system function, graphics, and sound vary from model to model, but compatibility is rarely a problem. Last but certainly not least, a compact heat sink prevents the COMP from turning itself into so much slag.

While most COMPs are designed with humanoids in mind, there are several COMP designs that can work with non-humanoid forms, and custom designs are always available. One popular alternate design, capable of accommodating quadrupeds and serpentine beings, removes the accelerometers and keyboard and reconfigures the wrist-set into a collar. The headset is expanded to allow for the installation of motion sensors that allow facial twitches to control the on-screen cursor, and voice recognition software is installed to allow the user to dictate text. An amorphous being will usually be able to store any given COMP internally and manipulate it with its body, requiring only that the COMP be watertight.

The headset is the combination monitor and speakers, with an earpiece and high-resolution eyepiece. The eyepiece's style is something that varies, ranging from a viewfinder that fits over one eye to a translucent shield that covers the eyes like sunglasses. Regardless of the design, almost all are configured to overlay a HUD on top of one's normal vision, allowing for on-the-go computing without sacrificing situational awareness. Most COMPs also include a discreet microphone, allowing for voice chat and commands.

SMT_COMP_headset_side.jpg SMT_COMP_headset.jpg
COMP software, like its hardware, shares many common features among different models. All COMP operating systems come packaged with a standard-format GUI, a combination Internet and file system browser, word processor, calculator, universal media player, image viewer, journal aggregator, and instant messenger program. Thanks to its high-capacity drives, COMPs have plenty of room for any other software the user might want to install or files they might want to download.

The durability and versatility of COMPs make them almost ideal for military personnel, able to hold targeting and range-finding software for snipers and a downlink that hooks up to a remote scanner that sweeps the area for targets and automatically maps the general vicinity with each step. Military versions of the browser and instant messenger programs also allow units to easily and quickly communicate with central command with a high level of security.

Perhaps the most interesting use of a COMP is in summoning demons. The famous Demon Summoning Program designed by the enigmatic STEVEN utilizes the parallels between computer code and magic invocation to digitize and store demons with whom a summoner's formed a contract, allowing the summoner to call them forth with naught but a few keypresses. It's a testament to his brilliance that the program is still in use today with few functional changes.

Though practical software is a large percentage of a COMP's utility, most users prefer to use their COMPs to play games. The eyepiece HUD in particular lends itself to enhanced reality games. One popular ERG is used to spice up paintball, laser tag, Infected vs. Survivors, and other such matches, using a texture overlay to stylize allies and enemies and the HUD to keep track of the player's statistics. Another popular ERG is a track and field simulator, displaying virtual hurdles to help the runner train without bruising their shins. Such ERGs occupy a different niche from the VR pods available in arcades, with the ERGs emphasizing physical activity and the VR pods emphasizing an immersive virtual world.

COMP styles depend on the manufacturer and the purpose of the COMP. Whether for comfort or durability or fashion, there's always a style around that will suit any user's preferences.

COMP wrist-sets can come in many styles

Visor-style headset
Flat keyboard wrist-set
Gladiator-style eyepiece
Flat keyboard embedded in armor
Alternate visor and wrist-set
Viewfinder-style eyepiece and covered wrist-set

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