a KI with partial completion of a marker mission
The KI (pronounced "key") is a versatile communication device that was being tested in the last days of the D'ni Empire, and is heavily used by the DRC and other explorers. Each KI is connected to a central network hub called the Lattice.
The D'ni did not refer to these devices as "KIs", though the original name for them is unknown. Some models had the D'ni number 3 on them ( 3 ), which resembles the capital letters KI, and the DRC used it as a shorthand term.
The KI is a small portable device worn on the back of the left hand. A strap around the palm holds the device in place. The model currently distributed by the DRC has a main circular face divided diagonally into four quadrants, as well as three buttons arrayed along the right side of the main face. A ring of segmented, multi-color lights surrounds the rest of the central face.
Most interactions with the KI are handled through a holographic display, which can be activated using the top-most button along the right side of the device. This display has two modes: ambient, and active. When the display is set to ambient, wearers can still view and send messages in the chat bar, and view other online users in the sidebar below. This mode can be configured to fade out after a delay. When the display is fully activated, it projects a purple-ish interface that provides full access to the devices many functions. The DRC advises explorers not to walk around while using the KI in this mode.
The DRC suspect that the D'ni numeral 3 on early models of the KI related to the number of functions it performed. Later models, however, had greater amounts of functionality.
KIs can be configured to grant their wearer access to secure locations. Many doors in Gahreesen are locked because the KIs given to explorers do not have sufficient security clearance. This access control can also be used to "register" a KI at a Nexus terminal. This will give the wearer access to a link back to that location when they are in the Nexus. Access to other areas can also be based on other KI functions. For instance, explorers are gradually given access to more portions of the Great Zero complex as they complete calibration missions with the KI.
Another essential function of the KI is its support for intra- and inter-Age text communication. The KI supports channels for "local" chat within a single Age, as well as group-based inter-Age channels for neighbors and "buddies"—anyone added to the KI's contacts section. Finally, there are direct person-to-person private messaging channels.
When there are more than a few people in an Age, the local chat channel restricts delivery to people within a particular range. The KI is also capable of filtering chat by location, so even though Ae'gura and Bevin are both in the same Age, there are separate channels for both locations.
The KI also supports a limited form of email-like communication. "KI-mail" allows a user to send an electronic text message or captioned image to another KI user. Messages and images can also be copied to certain holographic imagers in neighborhoods and guild pubs.
Other explorers can be added to the KI's buddy list in one of two ways. If the other person is in the same Age, they can be added by username. When adding explorers who are offline or in another Age, their KI number must be used.
Notes and photos
The KI has a rudimentary file system, which allows users to store text files and photographs in folders, based on the Age or location in which they were created. Explorers are limited to 10 KI messages of their own, but may receive an unlimited number of them from other explorers. Text files can be created by pressing the gold book icon in the center of the KI's face, while photos are taken using the round purple button just above the book.
Early tests of the KI system posted by the DRC on their website included several audio recordings of Eder Kemo. However, this functionality does not exist in the models that the DRC have distributed to explorers over the years.
Great Zero calibration
The KI is also critical to the calibration and continued maintenance of the Great Zero through the use of marker missions. Calibration is performed by comparing a marker's actual location in the Cavern with where it is supposed to be according to records stored by the Great Zero. By collecting enough markers, the Great Zero can self-correct its alignment and function properly, enabling the use of a cylindrical coordinate system (elevation, angle, distance) referred to as "KI-PS", or "KI Positioning System" (similar to Surface GPS, or "Global Positioning System"). Explorers who have sufficiently calibrated their KI to communicate with the Great Zero can create marker missions of their own, which can be sent through the KI-mail system to other explorers. New missions can be created by touching the marker-shaped icon on the left side of the device's face.
Once an explorer's KI is fully calibrated, the device's active holographic display will show the wearer their KI-PS coordinates in the top right corner, provided their location is properly synced with the Great Zero. While coordinates work in Ae'gura and the neighborhoods, more outlying areas like the Descent, as well as other Ages, do not display coordinates.
In 2007 CE, the DRC released the Age of Jalak. This Age was used by the D'ni for life-sized board games of various types. The board itself integrates with the KI to provide access to various game controls. A floating holographic panel can be activated by touching the bar icon which appears when a KI user is in Jalak. This panel includes controls for enabling or disabling a force field around the play area, moving the board's pillars into various configurations, and spawning holographic geometric shapes like cubes and spheres.
These controls are the first illustration that the KI has context-sensitive functionality, though no other features of this kind are currently known to exist.
Explorers can obtain their KI by visiting Gahreesen. Links to Gahreesen are available in every neighborhood. An additional link can be found in Relto, provided the explorer has completed the Cleft's portion of Yeesha's Journey. KIs are distributed by a large dispenser machine in a room that is down the hall to the right of the link-in point.