Previous parts here:

  1. Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 1: Skeleton
  2. Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 2: nervous system
  3. Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 3: Physical shock resistance
  4. Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 4: respiratory system
  5. Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 5: Heart and circulatory system
  6. Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 6: Radiation protection
  7. Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 7: Hearing

In just about any profession communication is important. For a soldier this is even more important, as both processing and signalling information can mean life or death for nearby allies and enemies. So when designing a super-soldier from the ground up you want to pay special attention to how they communicate.

Some restrictions for this design: Each communication method needs to be biologically buildable, repairable and maintainable without external help from a workshop (so no mechanical implants unless the body can build them). Also it needs to fit on a creature that looks as much human as possible. Small edit: as a future super-soldier, space-based combat could happen and communication in space would be handy in case of failure of the given equipment.

There are many many types of communication possible, here's a few I had thought off with varying chances of success:

  • The face. Humans use it for communicating emotions, with some extra musculature and other tissues the soldier can communicate other things as well during combat. Set facial expressions can signal the health status of the soldier, and by changing some expressions in a specific way soldiers could even communicate with eachother (instead of sign-language, face-language). The disadvantage is that soldiers could wear helmets that prevent reading the face, or enemies might see what a soldier is communicating by looking at their face. Possible interception: Anyone who can discern your features is able to see the communication. Binoculars and other vision enhancing equipment make it easier. Can only intercept when lookin at the front of the face.
  • The hands (and arms). Sign language exists, use it. Unlike facial expressions the hands can communicate even when covered by armored gloves and sleeves and are much better visible from a distance. Disadvantage is that you need to empty your hands before communicating. Possible interception: Anyone capable of discerning the exact movement of your hands is able to read it, vision enhancing equipment will help intercept messages. Can intercept from the front and side as long as nothing blocks the vision of the hands.
  • Bioluminescence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioluminescence. This gives you a better range and better visibility at night. It also relies on visible skin. Cuttlefish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuttlefish) can control the lights on their body to a great degree and create immensely complex patterns, and actually already use this to communicate. Such patterns of shape and colour could signal immense amount of data to friendly soldiers in quick succession, allowing for short bursts of silent communication to reduce the chance of interception or discovery because of using it. Again a disadvantage is the fact that some skin needs to be visible. Possible interception: Vision, possibly with visiual enhancing equipment or if there's less light interference (like during the night). Depending on the positioning this can be intercepted only by being straight in front (for something closer to a laser or encased by something) or from the front and sides if it's a light on the surface of the skin.
  • Camouflage. Cuttlefish again are capable of immensely complex patterns on their skin, even without light. Such patterns could, possibly in combination with all the other methods, signal large amounts of information to other soldiers nearby. Another advantage would be the ability to camouflage exposed skin on the fly. A disadvantage: You have to have exposed (or at least visible) skin to do this, which restricts what kind of armor you might be able to wear and the amount of protection it gives. possible interception: When seen from the front (of the surface area) it can be read by anyone, vision enhancing equipment increases the range.
  • Sound: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasaurolophus. The ParaSaurolophus (probably) used a crest on it's head to produce low soundwaves that carried far for communication. Similar things might be located on the body of the humanoid. Question is how to put them on the body without making it look alien. possible interception: Anyone within a certain radius. The range from the front will be longer than the range from the back, but in essence it can be intercepted from any direction. As example here's some ways directional microphones could help intercept at range: https://scienceprog.com/long-range-directional-microphones-myth-and-reality/
  • Sound: Voice. I'm not sure, but perhaps multiple vocal cords could be installed for a variety of sounds, from high frequency to low frequency, to improve the range of communications available. A squadleader is definitely going to find a deep, carrying voice with a lot of range useful for keeping track of his soldiers and giving orders. Disadvantage is ofcourse that enemies might hear it too. Possible interception: Anyone within hearing range.
  • Electric potential. A close-range communication, similar to an electric eel the soldier could produce an electric potential on it's skin to communicate with (it could also be used to communicate with electronics). To communicate with a fellow soldier they would need to touch eachother. Armor could possibly have conductive area's to allow touch without removing the armor. The pulses, frequency etc could all be varied to transfer types of information quickly.Possible interception: You'll have to be able to register an electric potential at range with enough detail to identify individual nerve input or you'll have to be touching the target you want to intercept the message from. Neither seems very likely.
  • Biological radio (normal radio applications, WIFI, short-ranged Bluetooth). I'm really interested in the potential of a biological radio. Would it be possible to build one? Would it be too easy to find a soldier using a bio-radio on a battlefield using electronics? What would be the range of such a bio-radio? Could the soldier change the range in case it might be intercepted? Could fellow soldiers even receive the messages with their own bio-radio? Possible interception: We can currently already intercept radio, and use a variety of methods to make the message unreadable. To prevent interception the users would need to restrict themselves to a limited set of predetermined short signals. Possibly with one signal that will shift the meaning of each individual signal should the enemy discover what certain signals mean, all predetermined prior to the battle.
  • Pheremones. Many animals use it to communicate, and it has the advantage that you can leave it behind for other soldiers to find later. Disadvantage is that it means anyone with a good nose can find the pheremones and the soldier excreting it, it takes a while for the communication to get through to everyone and wind could prevent communication in some directions. possible interception: Anyone who comes along and can smell the pheromones. More so than with biological radio, the users would determine the meaning of each pheromone prior to a battle so the enemy only knows there's a signal, but not what it means.

That was more than a few I thought off. Does anyone have a good idea about such systems? Or does anyone have a better method of communication they can think off?

  • $\begingroup$ Unless the bio-radio can do frequency hopping (to avoid DF and jamming) and encryption (to prevent unwanted listeners and hoaxes), forget about it. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jun 22 '18 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 why wouldnt they have access to encription? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jun 22 '18 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 just for clarity, I am really asking why they wouldnt have access to it. Is the radio too large? Does it take too much energy? Does the brain not have enough processing power to encrypt/decrypt? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jun 22 '18 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe they could use a form of echolocation that instead sends ultrasonic or subsonic waves for communication or even just to be used for echolocation. $\endgroup$ – Efialtes Mar 10 at 21:51

At first I would try to avoid everything long range, simply because every enemy could use that to locate your soldier and even "read" their communication. So Bioluminescence and Radio is definetly a bad idea, since it would inform every enemy about the presence of your soilders and how far away they are.

Edit after request: Why do we use radio but it is a bad idea for a hunter species.

At first, radio is already a big problem today and was in past wars. One of the biggest examples is "The Bomb" from Alan Touring. "The bomb" was a huge calculating machine, in WW2, that was used to calculate the enigma codes, which was used to encode the German communication, including radio communication. After Allies got those codes, they knew German Actions in advance and is assumed, that this shoretened the war for about 1 til 2 years. Since then the biggest arms races between militarries has been, over encoding and decoding communication lines, be it radio or other ways and often compelte concepts or technologies are thrown out because the enemy found a way to crack all their encodings in an effective amount of time. And that is the problem, there is no bilogical way to effectively block out your pray/enemy, from reading at least a bit from your communication, since evolution doesn't allow big changes, which would be necessary to effectively encrypt your communication. And even if somehow you could prevent that, it is not even neccesarry for pray/enemies to encript. If you just can feel radio signals, you would know if one or even more of your soldiers are around and how close they are. Even the direction would be known. So I really wouldn't use that for a biological super-soldier.

Also everything that needs the transmitter to be visible, with the exeption for close range communication, but here a simple sign and body language is enough, you don't need detailed information most of the times and long dances or other movement patterns for complex communication just takes time and may draw unneccesatty attention.

Edit after request 2: Bioluminescence, the problem with every light based communication is: It warns every enemy around, that the super-soldier is around or you keep it so dim, that it doesn't bring andy advantages in comarison to body language. And especially at night, light can be seen very easy from very far away. I had in my basic education from the german military a "night seeing" lesson, where we where out in the field in the night and had to learn the different lights, that our vehicles use to identify them correcly. But also we where shown how easy light can be seen from great distance. More specific, a glowing cigarette that we could clearly see over a 4km distance. I don't think that there would be any effective way to hide any kind of light communication when it is dark and when you only use it at daylight, when you can also see gestures, what does it really add?

Then the Pheremones, they have the problem that they stay for a long time, basicly allowing everyone else to know that one of your soldiers where there, where they went and gives them a certain idea of what they where comunicationg. Also it gets extremely limited by wind.

Sound via voice and other noises stays the best way to communicate, that is also why basicly every animal uses it one way or another, it was simply the best way to communicate.

Now which sound type is the best? I think for hunters, as soldiers are, african click languages would be a nice blueprint. They allow mid range communication via "normal" sounds, meaning sounds that we are used to, but they also can be used very closely towards enemies without alarming them, by using more clicking sounds which can't be heard over a longer distance and are way more difficult to locate. Cats also use clicking sounds when they are focused on a "target".

An African, using a clicking language, the clicking would be more and the "normal" sounds would be less when close to a target

Two cats communication via clicking sounds while focused

  • $\begingroup$ Could you explain better why radio or bioluminescence should be avoided? A modern tank without long-range radio is worse off than with from my understanding. Long-range bio-radio doesnt have to be on all the time, and short-ranged applications like Bluetooth could be well useable to communicate to nearby friendlies without it signalling where they are like talking/yelling across that distance would, and it can go through some obstacles. Bioluminescence would seem very handy as its directional. Enemies could be 10 feet away and not notice communications because you direct it somewhere else. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jun 22 '18 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan I added 2 Parts for light and radio communication. $\endgroup$ – Etaila Jun 24 '18 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ Good support. I do question though how bad it would be. For overarching communications like those in WWII you would indeed need secure radiosignals, and we have already gone for much narrower and directional signals. Here's an explanation of narrow Radars but it can apply to communication as well: radartutorial.eu/01.basics/Angular%20Resolution.en.html. Would you change your answer if most of the communication would be directional and/or shortranged to reduce the amount of intercepted messages? Would individual soldiers be capable of ECM to reduce the effectiveness of RDF? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jun 24 '18 at 16:54

Two things come to mind:

1) Extrasensory perception - super soldiers somehow evolved a form of telepathy for communication.

We can put sensors on our heads to read the electromagnetic fields emanating from our minds but are as yet unable to read someone's thoughts.

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If those same fields were able to be directed/focused toward another individual it would reduce the amount of power required and also reduce detection.

2) The super-soldiers develop super high frequency vocal emissions and hearing to match. Or, their eyes develop receptors to see the infrared or ultraviolet EM spectrum. If a part of their body could emit the corresponding spectrum they could have a light based way to communicate that is not detectable to people who aren't using special equipment.

Currently, many military forces use infrared emitters on their weapons for sighting which can only be seen with night vision goggles. Even though the technology is quite widely available now it is still used.

  • $\begingroup$ Those electromagnetic field readers are over the entire head for a reason. If you can read someone's mind through their helmet at a distance from any angle you have some super senses indeed! You could see just about anyone anywhere! And for security you would have to prevent mind-reading or enemy recon might read battlefield intel out of your mind without you wanting to communicate... Using other spectrums is a good idea. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jun 28 '18 at 7:03

How much info can you encode in adn? Inject cells with the information in the receiver's corresponding organ, a la wasp planting larvae or genetically created organ.

bam, ton of info that can't get inferred unless they cut your reservoir to take a sample.

can be prepared in advance and the delivery takes an instant. edit: seems like this is akin to asking for the best hammer. There are jewejer's lil hammers and powerhammers. Depends on the distance, energy constraints and the confidentiality of the info being transmitted.

Sometimes you only need "good enough".

  • $\begingroup$ Hello, Gustavo Almeida, and welcome to Worldbuilding. While this is an interesting answer, perhaps you could edit to address the topic of quick, battlefield communication, which I believe is the primary topic of the question. Please take our tour, and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have a nice day! $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Jun 28 '18 at 1:26
  • $\begingroup$ As Gryphon mentioned, this isn't quick battlefield information transmission. But as a secure data tranfer of say, superweapon launchcodes this could be a very useful tool to reduce communication interception. For something like when vital supplies arrive you could have one person carry the data to a commander and have a standard key. For launchcodes another person carries a DNA key to translate the launchcode DNA carried by someone else, to reduce the chance of interception. You can also store DNA of commanders and have the messenger check the DNA from his target before giving information. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jun 28 '18 at 6:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You optimize for some task. Elephants comunicate over large distances, yet broadcasting enables anyone to intercept. Same as firing a flare, you only want it to be far reaching. In the case of large distance which can not be intercepted, top of the line mil tech are lasers. Yet to generate them with organs seems a stretch. It is far more handy to have an array of options so given the environment, the soldier can use the optimum tool for the constraints of information density, security, speed, etc. $\endgroup$ – Gustavo Almeida Jun 28 '18 at 11:35

For short, visual range, we could base communication off of Semaphore. Semaphore is basically using signs to communicate letters to someone far away. Ships back in the ages of wood, sails, and broadsides, used flags to communicate words, so a navy could move and attack in unison.

So on or near the helmet, you could have a small display of various signs, each meaning either a word or an action. As a general rule, the more urgent a sign, the more simple it should be. (Such as solid yellow for "caution"). You could even have a speech-to-sign function in your helmet.

This works best as backup or signal blackout communication, and is not reliable for anything but short range communication.

  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't semaphore be similar to the usage of expressions in combination with the camouflage/bioluminesence? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jul 18 '18 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ It could pair well with that, I agree. $\endgroup$ – Joe P Jul 19 '18 at 1:47

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