Nanotech Paint Will Jam Your Cellphone

The original article offered just one thought about this use of nanotechnology to limit signals—use it to cover the walls at a suburban shopping mall; watch panic ensue. But given the increasing and deeply ingrained dependency on mobile devices, the repercussions might be frankly apocalyptic if applied to any highly populated but contained structure. Application to a cinema or theatre, for example, might seem like an entirely reasonable countermeasure against random acts of antisocial behaviour.

NaturalNano, Inc., developed this copper-loaded halloysite nanotube paint in 2006. It was designed and formulated to passively block specific radio frequency ranges but could use complementary technology to bypass the block through an electronically filtered bridge. So, while the article attracted comments about the danger of blocking emergency calls, there’s always that possibility that if you were a doctor or waiting list transplant patient, you could provide credentials to the site to add your phone to the whitelist through the bridge.

The notion has a dual angle of presentation for gaming.

Devices at the Table

On the one side, establish a clear but open etiquette around the use of devices at the gaming table. All gamers are not alike, so device usage needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. For some, a smartphone serves the purpose of a support device, a way to focus their mind or fill the moments between their full-on connection within activities in the game. The majority will have full cognition of the events happening around them while they’re using the device—but being quite open about it helps everyone to understand the situation and appreciate that the user’s actions are not an insult or comment upon their enjoyment of the game.

Suppressing the Normal

In-game, the core concepts of nanotech paint connect with narrative tools at your disposal that make for interesting stories, provided they’re not overused. I recollect so many adventures—by publishers large and small—that contain a notion around restricting plot-busting powers and abilities, like Fly spells. In the scheme of things, don’t do it. Players spend time and effort creating, developing and expanding the potential of their characters, so plot devices that nix something in their repertoire punish them without good reason. Find another way.

At the same time, when you do create an adventure that features a mechanism that suppresses some common facet of the setting, consider how the individual or group behind the mechanism overcame it for their own purposes. And then, make the acquisition of the loophole technology something that the player characters might side-quest for to allow them to get even.

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