Balina hones the cutting edge by Balina

Balina hones the cutting edge


7 February 2020 at 17:53:17 MST

The Damascene line is the latest and flashiest offering from Ignis Dextremeties. The company's telepresence and automation solutions have come a long way since their initial offerings back in the Torchstone line, and Damascene looks to be a stark departure from the usual practical-first nature of the company's previous offerings.

Indeed, Damascene looks more like it's just walked off the set of some new sci-fi series than the factory floor, the usual rough corners and obvious seams of a typical Ignis robot replaced with smooth curves and bright pattern-welded steel. The interchangeable, mannequin-like masks introduced all the way back in the Torchstone lines have been replaced with a custom-shaped AMOLED touchscreen display, capable of displaying diagnostic information and feedback during operations. Vision now relies on a series of cameras in the "jawline" of the unit, greatly expanding their visual range; operators unused to the expanded range can enable firmware features that help limit this down to something more comfortable to those only used to seeing with biological eyes. The outer casing and even the weatherproofing rubber layers can be removed for maintenance, or if not necessary for a given task, but both together are recommended for optimal performance.

Much like previous lines, Damascene is meant to be used in circumstances where manual dexterity is required, but the job remains too dull, dirty, or dangerous for a living body to work safely or consistently. In addition, however, Ignis hopes to expand further into telepresence markets, pushing the units as having a place outside of the assembly line, useful as general-purpose stand-ins both for similarly dangerous environments such as first-responder scenarios and when an expert in a matter is on the wrong side of the planet to act directly.

Critics of the new line have already observed that the newer stylings seem to focus on aesthetics to the point of absurdity, removing features found in favored standbys for the sake of trying to look like they came from the 23rd Century. ColdShoulder support appears to be a practical afterthought; while all three sets of arms do have CS sockets, only the 'rear' set are easily accessible. The upper two sets require some level of disassembly to remove at all, diminishing the principal benefits of using the standard in the first place, and limiting the units' upgrade-in-place capabilities for existing customers.

Further, critics allege, the extra steps to remove the outer plating and weatherproofing layers adds considerable extra labor in terms of maintenance, further emphasizing that appearance was valued above all else. Specifically, they seem to have been shaped very carefully to make sure all Damascene units strongly resemble Balina Mahigan, the headmaster of the self-titled Balinological Technical Institute. Such a comparison is perhaps inevitable; Ms Mahigan has been well-known as the unofficial face of Ignis in the public eye, due to their close working relationship and the campus' record-breaking utilization of the company's designs. Most Ignis lines have usually included a face patterned after her own as one of the default options for units, either at launch or shortly after. Ignis has responded to these concerns by stating that other layouts will be made available in the future, though as of press time they have not yet provided concept renders for these alternate configurations.

Still, if the objective was to market to one woman directly, it appears to have worked. BTI's official response has been extremely effusive about wanting "as many units as Ignis is willing to ship", and is already preparing the campus for a new influx. Damascene robots are expected to be visible on campus as early as next week.

Robomoofs were always supposed to be an important aspect to BTI and the head moof. Most of the art I actually get, however, is cross-reality shenanigans, so they haven't even had reasons to show up. I've finally been working on some stories set in BTI itself, which meant finally writing about robomoofs, which meant confronting just how many holes I had in what I'd covered before, which led to deep introspection on what precisely I wanted out of them, which eventually led to more self-discoveries than I think I expected to find.

It also led to this beautiful creature, so win-win. Expect to see more of these beauties in the near future.

Art: Strype Strype