Major Technology: Dermal Microbots

Dermal microbots are the Swiss Army Knife of the modern world. They enable telescopic and microscopic vision, radio communication and radar, local area mapping, laser audio, fine-scale polishing and abrasion, lidar, sonar, airflow detection, magnetic field mapping, motion sensing, manipulation of microscopic objects, and more.

These microscopic robot live on the wearer’s skin. Every few days they return to a special “central facility” for repairs. This matchbox- sized maintenance center is typically housed on the belt or on a bedside table, but occasionally implanted in the body. The robots are loaded with nano-scale devices, including manipulators, lasers, photodiodes, accelerometers, and more. They communicate with each other, with the infosphere, and with microbots worn by other people.


People with dermal microbots can see and hear in all directions. They have incredibly acute senses over great distances if they focus in one direction, much better than a hawk’s eyesight or a dog’s hearing. They can also see and hear in ranges outside the human norm. In addition to making people very difficult to surprise, this also forces civilizations to deal with a loss of privacy.

A microbot’s lasers are strong enough to act as a HUD when projected into the eye. They can also project images on other people’s eyes if they’re standing close enough to you, and even create brief pulses of light to blind assailants.. Manipulators on the robots can smooth hair and remove dead skin cells (which the robots use for fuel).

Many people ask their microbots to record events around them, which are deleted automatically after a certain number of days. How much of this information eventually becomes public is a matter of personal taste and societal norms.

Dermal microbots cut down substantially on street crime. Being recorded by someone with super-hearing, a retina scanner, and a blinding flashlight is not the ideal situation for a would-be criminal. However, they also enable a level of stalking and eavesdropping that would otherwise be impossible.

Even without a mesh people with dermal microbots can communicate with each other and with the infosphere. The bots can detect sound from speech, or movement as small as a finger twitch, and use it to trigger various other devices.


The bots are just large enough to be visible to the unaided eye, like a cloud of gnats. Stiff winds can blow the them away from their wearers, so the bots usually retreat into clothing or hair when the wind picks up. The bots do not function well in airless environments, and are restricted to crawling on the skin rather than hovering in the air.

Dermal bots can be hacked from the outside. This does not pose much physical danger, but can leave the wearer open to surveillance. Dermal microbots are technically not on the infosphere, but on a “personal subnet.” If the bots’ owner has a mesh, his or her brain acts as a firewall between the personal subnet and outside world, and only a successful mesh-hacking attempt will allow access to the subnet and control the bots.

Game Terms

Characters with Dermal Microbots have Nanotech 3 as a minimum.

Core Tech: Nanotech


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