Dataflow Visualizer (DFV)

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Name: Dataflow Visualizer, or DFV

Description: The device itself is a tiny cylinder, 25mm (1in) long, concealing a microcomputer and three antennas spaced evenly around its circumference.  It requires a display and a power supply, and can optionally be connected to an external computer for additional functionality.  Most commonly, a DFV is sold as part of a visor or industrial helmet, but its ports are standard, allowing it to be easily integrated into any modular device that meets the above requirements.  Thanks to the simplicity and efficiency of its design, it can even be implanted surgically and connected directly to the visual center of the user's brain for use with a cybernetic power supply.  This is very unusual, though, since the DFV is ultimately an engineering diagnostic tool.

Abilities: Essentially, the dataflow visualizer identifies the wireless interactions of nearby devices and presents them to the user with an intuitive augmented reality display.  It does not, notably, interpret or alter the signals it receives, and, because it's physically connected to its display, produces none of its own.  The DFV can detect the full range of radio frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, used by all but the bulkiest and most expensive forms of wireless communication.  Wired communication is, of course, invisible to the DFV.  Radio signals travel at the speed of light, but the user is shown glowing lines moving to and from nearby devices at manageable speeds to represent their activity.  By default, the DFV translates signal frequency proportionally into the visible spectrum, so that the lowest frequencies are red and the highest are violet.  Signals with no clear destination are shown traveling upward into the sky, while signals with no clear origin are shown traveling downward out of it.  Directed signals, and those that return from relays after being sent locally, are shown traveling from the sender to the receiver.

Conditional Abilities: Typically, the DFV utilizes an augmented reality display, overlaying its signal lines atop the user's field of view through the connected device or optic implant.  When connected to a hologram projector, however, signal lines are shown freely within the projector's range.  While this mode is mostly used by manufacturers for product demonstrations, engineer teams on a budget may opt to buy only one DVF and a projector instead of DVFs and visors for every worker.  A few high-tech interactive art installations have taken advantage of this feature since the device's invention.

Limitations: As previously stated, the DFV is limited to the radio frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Immediately below this range is electricity, and immediately above it is light.  The device cannot detect signals using these mediums, though they require physical connections or carefully-aligned lasers and lenses.  Also, the device does not interpret the signals it detects.  It informs the user of their presence, waveform, and direction, not their meaning.  Lastly, as with any electronic device, the DFV is vulnerable to EMPs.  Its advanced design prevents its destruction, but it won't function again until connected to an external computer and reconfigured.

How It Works: The dataflow visualizer contains three sensitive antennas for the purpose of signal detection and triangulation.  After that, all the work is done by sophisticated software that displays the gathered information in a way that's meaningful to the user and unobtrusive to their vision.  Triangulation is used to calculate a signal's point of origin and destination, and encryption handshakes are used to determine which devices are involved.  By assigning unique signatures to detected signals based on their waveforms, the DFV can recognize those that have been previously identified, such as signals returning from a relay.  This allows the device to visually compensate for network communication, displaying only a signal line traveling from the sender to the receiver to represent the exchange.

Flavor Text: A relatively recent invention, the DFV was conceived by hylotl engineers for use in heavily-digitalized urban environments as a means of analyzing the interactions of nearby devices to ensure their proper function in the clearest possible way.  As it grants the user unprecedented awareness of the information exchanges happening around them in real time, regardless of the visibility of the devices involved, the dataflow visualizer rapidly gained popularity among militarized hacker cells, advanced police forces, and the paranoid.

Attainability: [Open] - The DFV is a cutting edge engineering diagnostic tool, expensive and obscure outside of relevant circles, but easy enough to obtain.

Tags: [Civilian] - The DFV is completely harmless, even in terms of cybersecurity, considering it can't interpret the signals it displays.

Category: Tools


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Interesting little cyberpunk-esque piece of tech, Pass. Awaiting Seconding. @Sha


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