Ghost Interface (alias Washu pad)
Device in which the computer holographically projects an interface screen in some area near the user. The screen can be "touch" sensitive, with the computer monitoring phalangial position in relation to the projected image, or view-screen and "keyboard" can be separate projections. Ghost interfaces are usually activated either by a command word or easy hand gesture.

At its inception the ghost interface was a bit difficult for many typists and data entry personnel to get used to at first due to the fact that there was no tactile resistance as a normal, solid-state keyboard or touch-screen would have.

The computational, projecting, and sensing elements were usually contained in a small hand-sized housing stored somewhere exposed on the user's body. In rarer cases these elements were incorporated into a larger vehicle or institutional computer system, although in these cases the advantages of using good VR interfacing usually superseded those of a ghost interface.

Solid state interfaces, of course, were never entirely replaced by the ghost interface. But the technology did add to the cornucopia of interface techniques available at the time, such as the Gibson Jack, and was a step in the path toward more advanced techniques such as the Wraith Interface (which employed aerosol nano-machines for a more tangible and accurate tactile interface) and the well known utility fog style of interface.

Ghost interfaces were initially developed early in the Interplanetary period and continued in wide use up to and throughout the Nanoswarm period. During and after the nanoswarm period there developed a sort of psychological duality about things like nanotech. On the one hand it had just about wiped out civilization (nanoswarms). On the other hand it was vital to the survival of civilization (blue goo). This provided a lot of thesis material for psychological historians of later eras. Ambivalence about nanotech continued until well into the Age of Expansion. All throughout this period, ghost interfaces were popular as they provided a tech as flexible (or nearly) as a fog or nanotech interface without (probably) requiring nanotech to manufacture.

It was after the nano-swarms at some point that the Wraith Interface came about. Before this time nanites were probably considered more of a technical/industrial application, rather than something used for luxury/domestic purposes.

In more advanced tech areas they use whatever type of interface seems best for a particular application. It might not be uncommon to have a particular piece of equipment that has several different types of interfaces. Although this is often due more to tradition and aesthetics than sheer utility.

Less advanced tech worlds tend to keep their interfaces (and other components) separate to some degree, since it's easier to fix things that are less complicated, and easier to fix modular devices rather than totally integrated systems.

In the current era Ghost interfaces are still employed by a small portion of the civilized galaxy, either due to tradition, fashion or personal user preference (estimates of SI:<1.users are generally around 0.0003% )

Other ways that the 'tablet' equivalent may be carried include:


Arm band


forehead gemstone (over the 'third eye')

Eyebrow, nose. ear and lip piercings

Shoulder pad - good for getting earphones up to the ear and a good field of view around the wearer, esp. if both shoulders are covered.

Skullcap/helmet. Often used with DNI interface to cranial nerves

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Development Notes
Text by Peter Kisner
with additional notes by Todd Drashner, Pran, Steve Bowers and John B
Initially published on 05 March 2002.