All but the poorest of people have headware modifications that house a semi-autonomous program called an Angel. This headware is installed via a nanite injection shortly after birth and the Angel grows with its user, learning what interests them and helping them through their daily lives. The Angel implants also come with a standard wireless link and HUD reality overlay. Those who have Angels tend to pity and look down on those who don’t.
For those who don’t have Angels, external units are available consisting of a monocle, earpiece and interface gloves, or a simple armpad. Peripherals for both Angels and external units are called Wings.
A significant movement of people who have had their Angels removed or never installed has grown, in protest of the ubiquitous influence that Angels have on what a person sees and hears. These people believe that Angels are both subtly and overtly adjusting what their users perceive in order to control the populace.
They are actually correct in their perceptions. Governments and corporations have used the wireless links embedded in angels to alter the reality of the common man, enforcing docile behaviors and consumerism. Independent brain hackers also make a living by altering the programming of a target’s Angel to manipulate them into doing what they want.
The wireless network created by the Angel implants and the myriad of other networked computers and appliances is called the datasea. Users dive the datasea to search for information and manipulate networked devices. Divers, both professional and criminal, load up on headware that provides storage for custom programs and data, as well as upgraded firewalls to protect their Angels from tampering.
Every technological item has an Augmented Reality (AR) interface. This interface is visible via retinal display or AR monocle. Physical interfaces have almost universally been replaced and such archaic things as keyboards and mice are only found in Techdowner enclaves. Most AR interfaces include a virtual keyboard that responds to the user ‘typing’ in the air where it is displayed if they have an Angel implant. For users that do not have Angels, visual aids and AR interface gloves are required. External AR devices come in many levels of quality. The most cutting edge versions use a small monocle to project the AR interface on the user’s retina, and ultra-thin lightweight gloves to interact with AR objects. Older models get larger and clunkier; glasses and heavier gloves, through to a full helmet with a heavy gauntlet wired to it.
There are tens of billions of Augmented Reality Constructs (ARCs) of every shape and size. In the Datasea, less than 10% of ARCs are modeled from unique code. Most are altered or re-purposed from existing ARC libraries or indexes. This keeps development minimal and fast. Image and text editors allow developers to quickly adapt stock ARCwork into dynamic and original-appearing content.
While AR interfaces are useful, they are slow, relying on physical movements and are limited to fully networked devices, or devices in physical proximity to the user. For diving the datasea, there is virtual reality. Only those with Angel implants can use full VR interfaces. Those without Angels can still access the datasea, but have very limited options and are laughably slow.
When a VR session is engaged, the user’s mind is cut off from the physical senses of his body. A virtual representation of the datasea is created by his Angel interface. He appears in the location with a physical representation called an avatar. Many users have custom avatars, but stock avatars are also common. Every avatar is coded with its user’s AID (angel ID), which links their actions and transactions back to them. In VR, time passes at digital speeds, which allows the user to accomplish complex tasks in the datasea while only seconds pass in the real world. Interfaces within the VR world are intentionally very similar to the ones used for AR.
Virtual meeting places are common in the datasea, represented by VR replicas of famous locations, nightclubs, boardrooms, or even classrooms. A user can conceal his AID from casual observation by other users, although this is considered rude, but it is always visible to the datasea operating systems. Programs that temporarily change the AID of a user’s avatar are popular blackmarket items, and highly illegal.