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The subject of this article appeared in Call of Duty: Black Ops III. The subject of this article appeared in Zombies mode

The Direct Neural Interface, or DNI, is a feature in the campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops III. It allows the player to have complete control over their physiology, as well as to integrate with computer systems.


DNI is a system that once surgically implanted in a user's body, allows them to interact with and control computerized systems using only their thoughts, rather than physical controls.

Background and Historical Development

"The development of this technology has been brought about by breakthroughs in many parallel field; neuroscience, electrophysiology, materials science, computer science, artificial intelligence and robotics have all played their significant parts, along with the perfection of surgical techniques that would have seemed fantastical only 20 years ago.

Early academic work in the late 1970s started modestly, trying to discover if animals could learn to control the movement of a feedback meter, using a simple electrode that had been implanted into either single or multiple neurons in their motor centers.

Through the 1990s and 2000s advances in microsurgical techniques, the understanding of the function of larger areas of the brain and significant developments in computing power paved the way for experiments in which animals were able to learned how to control the movement of robotic arms.

Additionally, it became possible to view images of what animals were currently seeing, decoded and displayed on a screen from micro-electrodes placed deep within the thalamus region of the brain, located between cortex and mid-brain.

The 2000s also saw the development of the first successful neuroprosthetic devices - electronic systems designed to either bridge a broken series of neural connections, or replace the function of parts of the brain.

By 2010, it is estimated that over 200,000 cochlear implants has been fitted and early work on restoring sight as underway. In the late 2010s, an electronic device was first successfully used to restore mobility and sensation in a teenager who had suffered a spinal injury in a vehicular accident.

As our understanding of the structures of the brain, along with its internal signaling pathways improved, so did our knowledge of the control language that it used, both to signal different systems to operate in certain ways, but also how "data" impairing location, movement and sensory information was encoded and sent back to the brain.

Over time, this lead to vastly improved wearable robotic prosthetic devices for amputees, most of which were controlled by sensing electrical activity in nerves that were either near the surface of the wearer's skin, or had been surgically moved there.

It should be noted that while robotic limbs offered far greater mobility and utility than earlier versions, the devices for all their smarts remained "dumb". The user would have to learn how to control their functions, learning how to consciously control the firing of the target neurons, often over months or years of intensive, frustrating and sometimes painful physical therapy.

Research focus would swing towards putting increasing amount of smarts into translation systems that sat in between the biological host and the hardware that they were expecting to control; creating interfaces that would meet their owners halfway, individually learning and adapting to the neural signals that they were receiving."

Availability and Commercialization

"In June 2058, the Coalescence Corporation announced that they were in Human testing trials of a DNI system. In July of the same year, a select group of press and technology bloggers were invited to a presentation at their Zurich headquarters.

That presentation turned out to be the unveiling and demonstration of the first "true" Direct Neural Interface system. Initial reactions from the attendees were very positive.

In 2059, the company announced their Coalescence "Voyager Program", by which a small number of carefully selected volunteers would receive DNI implants as early adopters, and offer feedback that would be folded into any future commercial version of the system.

As the Coalescence Voyager Program began to unfold and non-disclosure agreements expired, it became apparent that while the capabilities of the system were nothing short of revolutionary, the invasive surgery and high costs involved would mean that at least for the foreseeable future, DNI would remain a highly specialized and niche-market product."


"The initial product run in 2061, despite a few notable endorsers was purchased almost exclusively by the military wings of the CDP and the Winslow Accord and would be given to high-ranking personnel with mission-critical responsibilities, such as air traffic control and drone/robotics operations specialists; areas in which a human operator has to evaluate and react to large volumes of information coming from numerous sources in real-time.

DNI-based control over new technology such as the Laser-based Propulsion System will be game changers on the battlefield.

Huge increases in productivity and efficiency of these groups would trickle down into the the civilian marketplace, and would see additional adoption amongst medical professionals who could now effectively control surgical robots as if they were seeing with their own eyes and using their own hands, rather than dealing with "clunky" user interfaces.

The current marketplace for DNI technology continues to grow primarily in military or civilian technical or safety critical profession, absorbing the implants as fast as the Coalescence Corporation can produce and fit them.

Anticipating substantial future civilian demand for the technology; Cortical Systems, a company specializing in Immersion technology for military training, have already announced that they are working on games targeting at the home market.

As of 2064, an estimated 220,000 DNI systems have been sold and implanted worldwide."


Through DNI, the player can use Tactical Mode, which allows them to "read" the battlefield advantageously by seeing information about the enemies (their location, distance, type and if they are about to shoot), killzones, deployed grenades and warnings of teammates needing help.

Tactical Mode is synced across DNI users, meaning if a DNI user sees an enemy, everyone using it can see said enemy, even through cover. It also allows the player to use a mode similar to night vision, where the screen turns black, everything is outlined and a green pulse will brighten everything away from the player making dark areas much easier to see in.

Cyber Cores are available through DNI as well, giving the player a variety of different abilities to injure enemies, protect themselves, control the battle and more.

Outside of combat, the DNI allows the player to interface with different kinds of computers, such as terminals, to extract information and control them. It can also be used to forcibly connect to another DNI user's brain and access their memories, thoughts and even subconsciousness. Accessing a person's mind occurs very fast - while it can subjectively last up to several hours of absorbing information and even conversing with the other person, in reality only a few seconds will have passed. However, this kind of forced mental extraction is not only deeply traumatic for the person subject to it but it invariably results in their brain death due to the extreme subconscious interference, making it something only to be used in extreme circumstances.


After getting critically injured, the Player had a DNI installed into their brain. Through it, they participated in a simulation where they were introduced to the capabilities of DNI by Taylor's Team.

Though it serves as a useful tool for combat situations, it is later found out that an infection that started with Taylor interfacing with the dying Player in reality and later with the simulation in the heart of the Coalescence disaster in Singapore is spreading through DNI users, changing their behavior, causing hallucinations and making them act abnormally in order to obey a rogue A.I. known as "Corvus." The DNI infection's effect on the user even goes so far as to betray their friends and teammates. In one version of events, John Taylor was the first to contract it, with the rest of his team soon to follow. After Hendricks interfaced with Diaz, it spread to his mind as well, with the Player gaining it after they interfaced with Hall. On the brink of killing the Player during a confrontation at Lotus Towers, Taylor stood up against the infection; opening the back of his neck and ripping out his DNI to prevent it from controlling him any further. Taylor was shot and killed by Hendricks in simulation who later came under the control of Corvus in reality.

Corvus used Hendricks to control the Robotic Defenders by killing ZSF Sergeant Griffin and other ZSF soldiers.

Corvus tricked Rachel Kane to reset the controls on Nova 6 which turns out to be falsified and Kane dies as a result of being exposed to Nova 6.

Corvus used Hendricks to kill Sebastian Krueger and the Player-controlled Taylor kills Hendricks and commits suicide to end the infection. Taylor holds off Corvus while the Player purges Taylor's D.N.I. ending the infection permanently that resulted in the deaths of the Player and Taylor's Team in reality.


Known DNI Users